[E]mma wakes up completely disoriented, with no memory of what came before her. She is a blank slate. Her handsome husband, Declan Burke, tells her she’s been in an accident and fills her head with memories of their past. But at night, Emma is plagued by dreams: memories of love for another man, of a cruel camp where girls are trained to be wives and of her lifeless body floating in a tank. She finds herself falling for Declan, but when characters from her dreams start appearing in real life, internal alarms begin to go off and Emma doesn’t know whom she can trust.
“I only understand that I am at war with myself, and I do not know why. One way or another, I will win” (Page 23).
Archetype is M.D. Waters’ debut novel, the first book in a two-part dystopian series. It’s set in America, where pregnancy is no longer a choice. The majority of women are infertile, so birth control and abortion is illegal and comes with severe punishment. Women are taken from their parents and sent to the Women’s Training Centre, where they are prepared for marriage and then sold to the highest bidder. Archetype poses a frightening view of women’s roles in a future that faces a population decline due to a lack of women.
The story is told through Emma’s perspective and “Her,” the voice inside her head. As Emma tries to fit the pieces of her tangled past together, the reader is right there with her.
Waters’ protagonist is refreshing – a strong female lead who has emotional depth and courage. It’s particularly intriguing to see how the male protagonists, Declan and Noah, shape and control her past and present. Emma constantly struggles with how to define herself, since women are merely objects defined by their wombs.
Emma’s memory loss means she has no idea what is going on. The reader is as confused and blind as Emma. The first 100 pages or so are frustrating because we have to rely on other characters to tell Emma about herself. Still, Waters’ slow release of details is necessary and gives her novel its strength. The story is beautifully written and the language sets the tone for a realistic sci-fi dystopian novel. Just when you think you have the whole thing figured out, there’s a plot twist. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, this book is definitely for you.
Archetype will grab your attention and selfishly keep it. Readers can expect to be fully immersed in this lazy Sunday read. Its cliffhanger ending will leave you wanting more. The sequel Prototype will be released in July 2014.
Author: M.D. Waters
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult