June 14, 2016
Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.
Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeal’s are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.
By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.
"Genesis Girl is a uniquely written story with a premise that instantly grabbed my attention." By czai 1 year ago
I really LOVE the world of Genesis Girl -- a dystopian world where a few children are sent to Tabula Rasa School. They are taught the evils of technology and are raised to stay away from it. After graduation from Tabula Rasa, they are sold to the highest bidders as models/advertisers of products. The idea is that because Tabula Rasa graduates called Vestals do not have any 'virtual footprint', it makes them the most reliable advertisers. Blanca, unlike her fellow Vestals, became a Geisha -- a Vestal bought not by a company but by a private person for private purposes.
Doesn't it sound interesting?
There were two things about the world which I really like:
(1) Internet is addictive and evil and can kill you (or not?). I really like how it tackles technology and the 'evils' of being addicted to it. I've never read a book like that. So I think Jennifer Bardsley was able to write a YA dystopian series that has a fresh idea. Internet addiction is something, I think, that is still not well written about and I think that it's something that's quite timely given the fast-paced world we're living in right now and how everyone technically relies on technology (heck, I have to admit that I check my phone the moment I wake up). I like how this book tries to explore the effects of the addiction and some fictional side effects of overusing technology such as the mentioned Brain Cancer.
(2) Brainwashing is strong. Tabula Rasa is basically a brainwashing school that tells the Vestals that technology is evil and it corrupts the soul. To Blanca, the brainwashing was so strong. She bought everything taught to her and I don't blame her. She's too scared to break the rules and while she had her curiosity from time to time, she immediately sets them aside because they are taught to not think for themselves. Vestals were raised to take orders and follow them.
Jennifer Bardsley was able to execute this really interesting story well. I like how she slowly opened the world and introduced the idea (and it's horrifying). The Tabula Rasa is, of course, just the beginning. There's obviously more to the story than just that. The writing kept me intrigued. A few times, I have no idea what's going to happen next. And it's something that I'm having mixed feelings about. I like how it keeps me in the dark but it also makes me feel that the story moves abruptly. It's like this: problem one is opened up then later it's mentioned that it's not really something we need to focus on, so enter problem two. We follow problem two's story but then it's still really not the big problem of the book, it's problem three. Surprise! BUT there are interesting twists that I didn't expect here and I like them.
Blanca is a well developed heroine. Tabula Rasa was able to completely brainwash her. She lives by the words of Barbelo Nemo, the founder of Tabula Rasa. She repeats his words in her head to remind of how she must act, how she must speak, and how she must live. But Cal McNeal, her purchaser, forces her to question the things she was taught to believe in. He tells her to think for herself. He tells her to study sciences. He asks her to do what she wants to. Blanca was also baffled by her developing relationship with Seth, Cal's son and reason why he bought Blanca's privacy. I like how both Cal and Seth were able to get into Blanca's mind -- how they made her think, how they made her stronger, how they gave her something to believe in.
The romance is an 'okay' thing for me. At first, there's an insta-love on Seth's side. I was really surprised at how his attraction for Blanca just escalated so quickly. For Blanca though there's a gradual development. At first, Seth was just a mission. Then she finds her self actually liking him but she just can't accept it because it's forbidden! (and Blanca is the most loyal Vestal out there!!). There were ups and downs to their developing relationship and it was a really good roller coaster ride because while Blanca constantly pushes Seth away, Seth insists on plastering himself to Blanca. While it has tinge of insta-love, I still ended up liking the romance.
The climax of Genesis Girl is really thrilling. There's action and Blanca questioning everything she was taught in Tabula Rasa and being scared for her life and learning to trust Cal and Seth and really thinking for herself. This is where I find myself holding my breath for most of the time -- the revelations, the pace, how will Blanca get around things. There was so much suspense!
Overall, Genesis Girl is a dystopian novel that revolves around the brainwashing at Tabula Rasa. It has an interesting world that really absorbed me and well developed heroine. I had a few issues about the execution of the story and romance but they were very minimal and didn't take away my enjoyment of the book. I think Genesis Girl is a uniquely written book with a really engaging world and great and satisfying ending.