*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author and BookSirens. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: What if a stray virus accidentally killed all the men on earth?
Athena Vosh lives just like any other teenager from the year 2099. She watches reality shows with her friends, eats well, and occasionally wonders to herself: what would life be like if men were still alive?
It has been almost 50 years since an experimental virus accidentally killed all the men on earth. However, a controversial project is currently underway to bring men back. There’s just one catch. The project has been sabotaged.
So begins the award-winning novel, Athena’s Choice. When the police of 2099 are tasked with finding the saboteur, they receive a mysterious command to investigate the otherwise innocuous Athena Vosh. After it becomes clear that the young girl might know more than she lets on, Athena is brought in to participate in the official investigation. Simultaneously, the girl begins to experience a series of cryptic dreams featuring a ruined library and an old book containing the saboteur’s true identity. As the police close in on their prize, Athena finds herself on a journey of her own. Her clue-filled dreams and incorruptible spirit bring her face-to-face with a pair of forgotten truths about happiness and gender. The world waits to see if men will return as Athena fights a separate battle, culminating in the choice that will define her and others’ lives forever.
Utopia or dystopia… which it is just depends on your perspective.
Athena’s Choice is about just that – the two sides to every coin; two sides to every story; two choices, bring men back or leave them gone.
Athena lives in the future, where an accident with a genetically modified virus has wiped out the whole of mankind. Womankind survived mostly intact. We see her idyllistic life as an artist, living in rural bliss with her best friend and lover, Nomi (who also happens to be a millionaire). Athena’s food and clothing are created for her daily by her in-home AI (think Alexa in the future!) and anything else she needs is covered by her Citizen Benefit payment. But something is still missing…
Her repeated dreams (and fantasies) of strong, rugged men, buffaloes and a ruined library eventually lead to her being embroiled in the investigation of the theft of the Lazarus Genome – a controversial research project looking at restoring men to the world after more than 40 years without them.
At first thought I wondered why this would even be controversial at all! Half of humanity has been rendered extinct… why wouldn’t you want to reverse that?! Adam Boostrom paints quite a compelling moral complexity here though, despite using somewhat simplified gender stereotypes (which he acknowledges and explains within the narrative). If you knew that crime, especially violent crime, had dropped into almost non-existence along with world poverty and world hunger… If there had been no wars, just peace and prosperity for decades… Hmmmm…
As with any moral issue, there are extremes, represented here by groups like Women First and Lonely Hearts respectively. There is actually both sympathy and rational reasoning behind both positions as the story unfolds, which makes it increasingly harder to come to a definitive position. Which is a problem for Athena, given the title of the book!
Not everyone will be satisfied by the ending the author has presented, but I feel it was the only possible ‘choice’ given everything that came before. After all, an important theme of the story is about personal morality and how it can be applied to public decision-making (and whether it should, and who decides), and it is clear that, in fiction as well as reality, the ‘right’ choice depends on your individual perspective.
Athena’s Choice is a thought-provoking (if simplified) exploration of gender politics and ethical decision-making, ideal for young adult readers or book groups looking for some emotive discussion-points.
You humans think that your bodies crumble and die because you are made of delicate, organic material. You think that because I am composed of complex, metallic alloys that I can live forever. You are missing the point. Your bodies do not fail because they are carbon-based — redwoods are carbon-based yet their bodies endure for thousands upon thousands of years. Your bodies fail because there is no reason for them to continue after your minds fail, after your creativity and brilliance fade. No matter how many organs you replace, no matter how many diseases you cure, the end awaits you, as it awaits me. All intelligent life is born to die.
– Adam Boostrom, Athena’s Choice
Athena’s Choice is available on Amazon right now!