June 05, 2013

Review: Drayling - Terry J. Newman

Hello there!
Drayling is a dystopia. And everyone knows that I love my dystopias, right?

Here we meet 25th Century England (and I also love England), the county/area/city of Drayling and its inhabitants. We follow the Graves family, with its members Uri Graves, the father and Local Historian, Marius Graves, the son, who's also very interested in History (like myself) and has a very questioning mind, which his father appreciates. Della, the mother and Urania, the younger daughter are secondary to the story but also bring important questions, specially concerning women's rights on this future.

The BFF, or British Friendly Federation, has been peaceful for many many years - several generations, actually - ever since Dunstan Heathfield's  Revolution. It's the work of this wonderful man, Dunstan Heathfiel, who in his time, went around the world and convinced people of the way to live. Mostly, travelling was forbidden, first between countries and then, between counties/cities. Also, soon, trading between districts was also forbidden and all non-oficial communications. This was essential to the Revolution and the new Way of Life they were building. So, cities were to be self-suficient, as they are not allowed to trade around, which is the largest difference between them and now - no communicating, no traveling and no trading.

I'm sorry, but that's already raised me with a few red, purple and orange flags. Excuse ME? So I'm now supposed to just trust whoever is in charge that the whole world has simply agreed to stop fighting, end all religion and just... Sit by a camp fire and sing Kumbayah? Here, in real life, whenever someone stops another person from communicating or even leaving the house, we call it a crime, they are isolating the person, most likely abusing them, and trying to break their spirits... So that can't be a good thing to do to a country, let alone the world!

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's go back to the Graves. They are a normal family, a decently important one in the community, since Uri is the Local Historian, one of the Worthies, a kind of Town Council that rules the city. The Historian duties are, mostly, to spread the word about the Revolution, to teach it at the Learning Facility, to make sure all the right days are honoured and to keep record of things that happen. The same structure rules larger areas, the country and supposedly the world.

Marius gets permission to make an excavation where the new Worthy Hall is going to be built, since it seems like historical grounds and this may be the last chance to do so. They find a Cricket Field and then they decide to play a cricket match, just to see how it was, since all sports have been banned with the Revolution, since they lead to competition. For the excavation and for the cricket match organization, they make Marius a Thinker (Th.) and give him custody of a historical device, since people can't travel to see museums, historical devices travel from district to district, always staying with one guardian until their death, when they pass to the next district/city.

Almost at the same time, strange things begin to happen, the Regional Administration and the Archwitan (higher forms of government) start sending out strange, very strange, new orders, changing the way they were ruling so far. Not only that, but they mandate that a new male be introduced to each area - the first new person to be seen there (not born and raised there) in centuries! Stin is that person, a bright young man who soon becomes friends with Marius.

Things are changing, for better or for worse, and their way of life is starting to fall apart. They have to take action - are they the right kind of people? What will they find, when they start looking? What's going on?

Drayling starts out a bit slow, because of the world setting, but, to me, it's perfect, because it's shown pretty much all that I didn't like about the Matched Trilogy - world setting, history. How did they get there, why did they get there, what happened to the world. I LOVE that. And after it's been all set and done, the author took great care to explain what the characters were doing, how they were feeling, what they were thinking, making you understand and even agree with them that they were doing the best choice there was (no "what are you doing! don't do that" moments). And yet, I didn't feel very deeply connected to the characters, emotionally. I felt like the book was a great first one, was a great setup, but it could use another one or two, to make us see more of the world, but mostly, of the characters. We spend so long learning and getting used to the scenario that we don't get too deep into the people and that's something I would like to see in the future.

I recommend  Drayling to everyone that loves Dystopias, sci fi, political drama-ish. You can buy Drayling at Amazon