Blurb: Emelia must choose. Her sister or her soulmate.
In a world not dissimilar to our own, the Administration have ensured that the human race should not have to live with any regrets.
Like millions before her, Emelia now has the chance to go back and make the ‘correct’ decisions. The little envelope that contains her amendment will change not just her life, but that of the people she loves the most. Her sister Finola, whose reckless and self-destructive nature have led her dangerously close to the sinister Marchers movement; and Gabe, the rock that has been holding the remnants of her family together for as long as she can remember.
Caught between saving Finola or happiness with Gabe, she must struggle to predict how the ripples of her amendments will spread.
What would you amend?
Amendments is set in a dystopian future, which somehow feels like it should be a utopia if only people could just find the right amendments!
This is the theme that runs through the whole story: the interconnectedness of events, which means that for every action there may be one foreseen consequence, but multitudes of unforseen ones, untold other changes rippling outwards, good and bad. The morality issues are fully explored but remain shaded in hues of grey; is it selfish to refuse to use your allotted amendments to improve or save a loved one? What if you make a positive change to your own life, but as a direct or indirect result the new world you have created means death for hundreds of others? These are complex questions and Hannah Lynn frames them but leaves the answers to her readers to interpret as they wish.
The novel follows Emelia as she grapples with such dilemmas from the date that she receives her right to two amendments to her life choices. The process of this is unclear, but appears to involve a reset back to a specified date along with an envelope containing a short message from the ‘previous self’ that requested the amendment. However, unlike Groundhog Day you can’t revisit the same event to keep refining your results. Once you have amended an event once, you have to live with the consequences…unless you can persuade someone else to use their amendment as you wish, of course.
Although the book is packed with emotional tension, the actual problems Emelia faces are not huge or dramatic initially, just standard dysfunctional family and relationship issues that any number of other people are dealing with on a daily basis. That is the scariest thing about Amendments, these things could and do happen in real life, and yet we see that changing them doesn’t necessarily mean improvement.
The secrecy around the processes and systems involved helps the author to throw some twists and turns in as the plot progresses, but it did make the beginning chapters quite confusing as I struggled to follow what the whole setup was and what the characters were struggling with / trying to achieve. This settled down as the plot unfolded and further details gradually drip-fed through with the action.
At the time of reading I whole-heartedly bought into the events of the plot and Emelia’s angst, but after some post-book reflection I did wonder why anyone would adjust early on in life. After all, you can choose to go back at any time, so it seems to make much more logical sense to just let your bad decisions play all the way out and then towards the end of your life go back and make the big adjustments that stand out to you. On Emelia’s logic I would have used up both my amendments in my twenties on bad boyfriends and drama, then had no recourse for later, bigger problems! I didn’t feel the novel gave a sufficient explanation for this trigger-happy attitude, especially in regards to the first tricky decision Emelia faces: surely she could have waited even a couple of days to see if things improved first?!
Despite those quibbles, this is an intensely thought-provoking and entertaining story about the things we do for our loved ones and how we decide our path in life.
Being my twenty-first birthday, today is the last day my hand will look like this: pink, crinkled, unbroken. In a few hours it will be scarred; marked with my right to amend. I should probably be excited. Most people would be. But I know from experience that amendments don’t solve everything. My mother is a testament to that.
– Hannah Lynn, Amendments