I was given a copy of this novella to review (although my views are my own). It’s published by Annorlunda Enterprises, a small-press publisher that focuses on stories that make you think.
Published: 2018 (today is the release day, in fact!)
Genre: maybe post-apocalyptic fiction? It was Judgement Day that happened, not the apocalypse, but it changed everything
Length: 152 pages
Setting: a generic city, near future
Summary: Judgement Day has arrived, which means that all of your actions are tattooed onto your skin. Everything tattooed on your skin remains fresh in your memory as well. Law enforcement now involves just reading the words on someone’s skin. One day, a young girl named Jane Sparrow shows up in a hospital with no memory of her life and no tattoos on her skin. Everyone is shocked to see such a blank slate. She ends up in jail and on trial for the crime of not having tattoos. Before she can go to trial, a small group of people engineer her escape.
Final thoughts: This was such a fascinating story – it definitely fit the theme of “making you think”. When I finished, I gave a great sigh of satisfaction. There’s a couple of different things the author does in this story. First off, each chapter is told from a different point of view. The first and last chapters are told from the point of view of several gods who are using Jane to influence the world. Each of the subsequent chapters is told from the point of view of someone who decides to protect Jane because of her goodness. Jane elicits two responses from people – fear because of her difference, or compassion to help her because of her difference. She manages to find enough good people around her to keep her safe (at least for now).
The story also started at the end. That can be a gimmick, but the author was able to use the technique to pull the reader deeper and deeper into the mystery of where Jane came from. Each chapter walks back Jane’s history so you get a little more of where she came from, what happened to her, and why she is such an oddity. A world where your actions are written on your skin for others to read works very differently from ours. It’s much harder to hide the shameful decisions you made, or even forget the horrible things that happened to you without an illegal tattoo artist. That tattoo artist has to be able to forge the Maker’s handwriting (and what font does the Maker use on a person’s skin?). It makes me wonder what would be written on my skin and how far down my body my tattoo would extend. The more you live and do interesting things, the longer your tattoo. I would hope I’d be running out of skin to tell my life’s story by the time I died!
And don’t worry, Rene does give the reader closure in the last chapter. You find out where Jane came from and why the gods are interested in her. And it changes the flavor of everything you’ve read. Almost makes me want to go back and read it again, now that I know her purpose. Overall, highly recommended.
Title comes from: After Judgment Day, all your actions (starting with your birth) are tattooed on your skin by the Maker’s hand
Reading challenges fulfilled: none since it was just a novella
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