Book Review: Domechild by Shiv Ramdas
Luckily for me, I was given a free ebook for this title. (perks of being on the NaNo Facebook group). Since this was a free copy, I am going to try my absolute best to review this novel as thoroughly and honestly as possible.
To be quite honest, I was slightly hesitant to begin. The premise of the novel sounded extremely intriguing, but for the particular plot the novel was either going to be really good or really bad. There is just no in-between for it. Despite my concern, I still wanted to read it.
The premise of the novel is that our protagonist, Albert, lives in a world contained within a dome. In this world technology is abundant; a never ending technological revolution. Their lives consist of nothing, day in and out. It isn’t until Albert encounters a group of children that his life begins to take off, living on the cusp of death, getting closer and closer to the truth of the dome, his, and Theo’s existence.
Interesting right? Well, here is my breakdown, ranging from analysis, wishes, and conspiracies:
The first few paragraphs left an eerie feeling similar to the likes of 1984, which I am a major fan of. There are definitely parallels that can be pulled between the two novels.
The writing in itself is sophisticated and fluid. The transitions are definitely clear and well thought-out. There are few sentences that sound a bit awkward, but they are so minor that it would be pointless to really meander over them. I should point out, though, reading this novel is going to require concentration. It’s not a light read. I had to go back a few times for comprehension. It’s very easy to miss a key point in the novel because of its pace.
I had one consistent issue with the formatting/writing, but that was probably an issue on my computer’s behalf. I had a couple paragraphs duplicated in my ebook. I haven’t seen anyone else with the issue, so I’m sure it’s my shitty computer.
The plot in this novel is just insane (in a good way). The tale seems so incredulous, but it weaves together so well. The one thing that truly bothered me with the plot is how the second setting, Sanctuary, becomes so much of the focus that the Dome seems like an afterthought. It doesn’t feel like there is any present danger for Albert to be outside of the Dome, which, considering all the lawbots that were after him, it was.
Come to think of it, the setting of Sanctuary was more developed than the setting of the Dome. The reader has no glimpse of what a normal day in the Dome is, whether or not there is anything to it.
I do, however, have to give major credit to Ramdas for explaining the history behind the creation of the Dome. It takes just about the entire novel to reach the explanation, but it’s so detailed and thought out. One of my pet peeves with dystopias is that there is no building to revelations. For example, the Divergent series. The reader is explained how the factions exist, but not why. There is no explanation to how the new city was created, nor is anything shared about what the characters believe. So, in turn, the revelation at the end of Insurgent leaves much to be explained in Allegiant, if it can be explained. (I haven’t gotten to reading Allegiant yet, shhh) When history isn’t properly established it diminishes the emotion and the validity of new information. I was extremely happy to read those few pages.
Okay, as far as the protagonist goes, I’m not quite sure how I feel about his development. I mean, it’s there, no doubt. My main concern is how he developed. The novel and plot is so fast paced that I don’t really think Albert had any substantial growth until the end. I felt a lot of his decisions were forced, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for him to decide or really make standing his morals. Yes, at the beginning to the point of the encounter with the children the hint of development is there, but it gets stolen from the point of contact with SUE. He’s forced to file a petition, he is forced to leave home. It took 153 pages in to see any real development with Albert.
I feel like his development would be one that most would probably disagree with me about, but there is one point in the novel that- at least to me- makes me doubt his growth. There is a scene where he is listening to a speaker and just becomes so consumed with what the speaker was saying- without having any knowledge on the issues at hand. When Albert hears Vail, it’s like the total fixation that is seen in front of the screens in 1984. And that what is worrisome about his character.
Theo, what personality Theo has. It’s both charming and offensive and brash and wise, which all works for her. I cannot help but be charmed but Theo. The clashing of their upbringings are simultaneously comical and saddening. There is a break in her character where her vulnerability shows, and it’s quite sad. It’s really the first time that she can be seen as she is- a child.
All right, as far as leaders go, it’s both good and bad. What I want to address first is Bosquanet. Bosquanet is the Keeper of the Dome, Big Brother if you will. She commands all that occurs in the city. But, the thing is, it speaks of her watch and control of the city, but it doesn’t seem so strong until it interferes with Albert’s life. I genuinely was under the impression that there were none above the robots. They were intelligent enough and humans did nothing of substance in the Dome. I was surprised to find out there was an actual human leader. It’s just not a convincing iron grip. Leadership is actually displayed better in Sanctuary. Between Father, Vail, Cantor, Cillian, Colby, Albert… The list goes.
I do love the characters. I do. They have such distinct traits and personalities that reading their interactions pulls the reader farther than what the plot does.
I even have a favorite. I adore Marcus, who happens to be an… angsty killer? I guess. Don’t judge.
There are many references to religion, more specifically monotheism and Christianity, throughout the novel. Case in point, quotes below:
“Think Heaven on Earth.”
“hope—pray—that nobody found out. ”
“but still, he was in serious danger of becoming the sacrificial lamb.”
“May his soul repent, wherever it may be!”
“When addicts die and go to heaven”
Wow. I promise that there was more references, but apparently I did not save them. Doesn’t matter, my point still stands. The concept of Heaven, the term sacrificial lamb, they are religious based. So, they have the base of religion, but what happened to it under the dome? Was it eradicated? Do people still silently pray? Do they think it ridiculous?
Sure, not a concern in many dystopian novels, but it is stated in the novel that the Dome itself was in the transition to complete emancipation after Albert was born. Meaning that during that transition modern and ancient concepts from the world before would still exist within the population. I wish it was emphasized at one point.
I really, really wish beauty and physical appearance was emphasized more in the novel. Albert mentioned a child being the most beautiful child he’s ever seen, but that opinion is based on a mental schema formed within the Dome that the reader isn’t aware of. What is the standard of beauty that the child was held to? How is beauty determined in the Dome when life is meaningless and interaction is limited? Does beauty play a standard in the genetics of the Dome’s population?
In fact, is it specific race in the Dome? Nationality? Is it a melting pot? It isn’t touched upon ever in the novel. Aside from the child, the only comment made on population and race and things of that nature is when Albert reaches Sanctuary.
“there were people, of all ages and colours and sizes”
The fact that Albert points out the immense diversity must hint that the Dome does not have the same make-up. So what’s different?
Overall, it is a wonderful read. I loved it. I think it’s definitely a game-changing modern dystopia/sci fi/social commentary that ranks well with Orwell. It honestly took everything in me to not message the author about anything going on. I cannot wait to read the sequel.
Oh, yes, I did mention conspiracies, didn’t I?
I had wrote in my notes originally about SUE- one whom readers will discover fast. I had wrote down that I liked that SUE did not give a reason for choosing Albert and whatnot. But the thing is, there was a reason and I’m eighty percent sure I know the reason.
Those robots are not that aware.
All I’m going to divulge until someone wants to discuss conspiracies with me.