Author: Jonathan Friesen
Review by Grace Olson
Aquifer was the first book of its genre that I’ve ever read. Dystopian fiction, for those who don’t have any clue what that word means (and how do you even say it?), is defined as an utterly horrible or degraded society, or dystopia according to Wikipedia. In other words, the opposite of utopia.
Taken from Zondervan Publisher’s website synopsis of Aquifer:
Only He Can Bring What They Need to Survive.
In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water. But he has learned the true control rests with the Council aboveground, a group that has people following without hesitation, and which has forbidden all emotion and art in the name of keeping the peace. And this Council has broken his father’s spirit, while also forcing Luca to hide every feeling that rules his heart.
But when Luca’s father goes missing, everything shifts. Luca is forced underground, and discovers secrets, lies, and mysteries that cause him to reevaluate who he is and the world he serves. Together with his friends and a very alluring girl, Luca seeks to free his people and the Rats from the Council’s control. But Luca’s mission is not without struggle and loss, as his desire to uncover the truth could have greater consequences than he ever imagined.
Aquifer is written in the first person from Luca’s point of view. As this was the first time I had ever read a dystopian novel, I was taken on an interesting journey. I believe I requested a review copy of Aquifer when I was working at a week long, overnight camp in a different state this summer, but forgot about it, so I was rather surprised to find a copy of the book waiting for me when I returned. Reading Aquifer was a challenge for me. I don’t usually venture into the world of science fiction. It doesn’t hold the appeal for me that fantasy or a good historical fiction novel does, but I believe it was good for me to undertake a new genre outside my usual reading line up.
The premise of the story was interesting. A parched, supposedly peaceful world where emotion is forbidden and people are ‘debriefed’ or worse if they do not follow the strict adherence to control. A world where nearly everything taught to the masses is a lie.
I am not a big fan of teen romances in novels. I hesitate to say that, however, because there are exceptions to this, but in Aquifer I found my former opinion was the case. Maybe because it happened so fast, maybe because it seemed more like infatuation than the love it was supposed to be, I’m not sure. It just did not seem authentic to me.
I did appreciate in Aquifer how Luca is not the normal hero. He isn’t confident all the time, he isn’t terribly good-looking or strong. He’s a flawed human being who is trying to make his way in an oppressed world that squashes any show of emotion or feeling.
The spiritual aspect of this novel was found in the form of a Voice and a prophecy. This Voice, presumably the God of the Bible, speaks inaudibly to Luca and whenever Luca obeys, events miraculously work out for a bigger purpose. And the prophecy? Well, if I told you about that, I would be spoiling the story. The end of the novel speaks of hope, a hope that is rooted in the Voice.
About the Author
Biography from Zondervan Publisher’s website: Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids. ~ To learn more about him and the other books he has written, visit his web page: http://www.jonathanfriesen.com/
Aquifer was an unusual read for me, a stretch outside my normal reading repertoire, but I’m not so sure I’m ready to hop onto the science fiction band wagon yet. Overall, the book was entertaining and thought-provoking as I considered the fictional future of our world 240 years from now.
I was given a free copy of Aquifer from Zondervan Publisher’s new YA imprint, Blink, for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. Aquifer is © 2013.
Aquifer is available for download or paper copy.