Aletheia by Megan Tennant is an excellent dystopian fiction that is gritty and depressing in all the right ways. Here are 5 things I want to talk about without giving away too much:
1 | 736
First of all, I respect the guts of the author for giving the main character a number for a name. It seems to me quite risky. I, myself, immediately forgot her name except that it started with a 7. Was it 736 or 763 or 793 or 765…? And because it was written in first person perspective, the name is not stated as repeatedly as it would have been in third person. It’s very easy to forget. And I didn’t know how to pronounce it either – is it seven three six, or seven thirty-six, or seven hundred and thirty-six, or…? This character is giving me problems just with her name and it definitely contributed to my lack of interest in the beginning of this book.
As it turned out, my overthinking of this character’s name is actually a good representation of her complexity. Her complexity starts from her appearance and continues on to her psychology. She goes through so much, physically and emotionally, and we get a showcase of her toughness and vulnerabilities.
2 | Story
Aside from the characters, I feel that the story and how it plays out is well-crafted, even though the writing may need some improvement in some areas. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful and has that poetic quality to it, but it can slow the pace down in certain scenes, such as in the beginning and in action scenes. But overall, the story took me on a ride where there are times I am overwhelmed with emotions, or just overwhelmed.
3 | World Building
The world-building itself feels much more realistic than other dystopian novels like Hunger Games (which I like despite the world-building) or Divergent (which I didn’t like because of the world-building) and it just seems like real effort is done to flesh out this book’s world-building and I really appreciate that. (Disclaimer: I haven’t really read a lot of dystopian books.)
4 | Characters
I’d rather not delve too much into this topic because it could involve spoilers. But I would say that the character arcs that are offered here, and how they impacted 736’s psyche and mentality, are the best thing about this book. 736 is just one of many compelling characters who have their own unique quirks and personalities and their own unique way of dealing with their circumstances. If I were to pick the top 5 characters that intrigued me the most, in no particular order, I would say they are Arson, Rose, Seth, 1633, and 736 herself (OK, it’s kind of like in alphabetical order). These are also the characters that made the most impact to me. Jason is also a decent character, but because he’s very much like the tortured artist type that I’ve seen many times before, I don’t find him as compelling as the others.
5 | Romance
Although Jason was not one of my favourite characters, I find the romance between them sweet. And for everything 736 is going through, she deserves a little sweetness in her life. So I’m definitely rooting for them.
OVERALL | ★★★★★
Disclaimer: This rating is based on my overall enjoyment of the material, whether it was time well-spent, whether it was worth the money, whether I would be likely to repeat it. It is not a measurement based on structure, technique, flaws and perfections. FYI.
Side Note: When I first picked up this book (digitally) it reminded me of two things. The title reminded me of my sister whose second name is “Althea” – very close to Aletheia. She was named after my aunt whose second name is also Althea. The second thing is pertaining to the iris flower, which is on the cover of the book. There is a quote that I love from the anime Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuioku Hen. It goes:
“The scent of an iris is strongest during the rain, even if it is a rain of blood.”
This book crosses out the following squares (circle = bingo style, cross = flush style):
I’ve actually already completed the middle row (yay!) so now, I’m aiming to cross the whole board! (I’ll post an indiecember update soon!)
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this review.