Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Genesis by Bernard Beckett - Review

Read this book for my Young Adult Book Club March pick.  It is a very thought provoking book.  Really makes you think and is perfect for book clubs who are looking for some deep discussions.  This is a great Utopian novel! 

Here is the goodreads description: 

Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax’s examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim? Outstanding and original, Beckett’s dramatic narrative comes to a shocking conclusion.

This is one of those book that are hard to put into words. It is very short ... 150 pages is all. I read it in like an hour and a half. The neat thing is that this whole novel is based around an interview. So you learn all about the story that way. And it even switches up the narrative.. first person, third person, and even watching the story unfold in a hologram. This actually all works well for the story.

 I am not sure if this story is a young adult book? I think in some countries (this is published in 22 countries)it is marked as adult and then other places it is marketed for adults. I really don't see very many young adults picking up this book which is too bad. I think it would allow them to read and question their own point of views. The twist at the end of this novel is AMAZING and blew me away. I did not see it coming though some in my book club did.

 The author Beckett is from New Zealand and has agreed to do a Q&A with my book club which you can find here. He creates a book that makes the reader question their own beliefs.  The questions in this book include what is the origin of life?  Did humans create their own evolution to make us look like the main living things? Are humans conscious and if so how do we know that? Do humans really have a soul and this is what separates us from other living things?  These are really the questions that this book has you think about so as you can see it is much deeper then most young adult novels (or like discussed above an adult book). If you check out his blog you will discover he writes these kinds of questions even on there.

I think that this is an amazing book.  Almost needs to be read twice to really get everything the novel is trying to say. It's not totally my style of reading but still really good. Because this book has been published in so many countries there are many many different book covers for it.  I always love when there are several book covers for a book and I can look through all the different art.  Here are some that I found:

I love all these covers!

The crystal ball says: 

Fog is coming.....  in the middle of the road on this book!


  1. Wow... Ok, I HAVE to read this. Definitely putting it on my "to pick up at the bookstore" list! Love the review and can't wait to get my hands on this!

    1. It is such a fast read... you will get it done in an afternoon!

  2. It actually wasn't that quick for me, but I may have been busy when I read it, too, so it took me three days, I think. Also, when I'm not totally focused, I can be a slow/distracted reader.

    I enjoyed reading your review and I really like that you showcased some of the other covers, because this book has such a neat range of covers. I probably like the one I read it in most, which is second level first on the left, because it has all these gadgets attached to the animals, taking birds and orangutans (a link I didn't see until the end) and incorperating them into the story. Also, it's just a really nice cover, and I like the range of colours.

    Whilst I did find it had no lack of thought provoking questions and depth, I felt very disconnected with the switching narrative, and, as I said in my review, I just couldn't settle into the story when it kept swiching. It is certainly something akin to an unforgettable read, but I only wish that the whole book had felt like that for me, and not just the end.

  3. Great comment!!! I love the covers too. I see what you are saying about the end being unforgettable but the rest of the book just being blah. I think this is a love or hate book.