Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
This week I’m revisiting Future Perfect by Katrina Mountfort. Published in 2014, it’s a YA novel set in a Dystopian future.
It’s the latter half of the 22nd century and the population of the UK, now known as State 11, live in Citidomes, controlled environments in which everyone is encouraged to look, think and act in a certain way. The inhabitants are dominated by Mind Values which suppress negative emotions to facilitate a peaceful but subjugated existence. Emotional attachments and regular relationships are prevented. Accommodation comprises four resmates to each unit with no outward signs of friendships, people are just interested in how many connections they can acquire. Body perfection is encouraged and anyone not conforming to the standard is belittled and looked down upon. The residents of the Citidomes are controlled by fear of viruses and severe, degrading punishments by the correction enforcers.
I followed the others and my hand flew to my mouth. Two correction enforcers were dragging a guy and girl by the hair. The guy struggled and yelled until they stunned him into catatonic submission. The girl, tears streaming down her face, looked anywhere but at us. A third CE pressed something to their forearms. I frowned and looked at the others, but the action had been so swift and covert that no-one else seemed to have noticed. What was it? Behind them, another woman was hurling insults. Then she spat on them.
Caia, just graduated from the Academic centre, is assigned to B2 residences and her new resmates, with whom she has virtually nothing in common. Meeting Mac, a suspected nonconformist, as she takes up her new position as researcher at the Ministry of Biotechnology, makes Caia begin to question the values and standards of life in the Citidomes. As the attraction between herself and Mac grows she begins cautiously searching the forbidden information sites and becomes aware how contrived everything seems to be. When she and Mac are sent on an outdoor mission it marks the beginning of a complete change in their lives.
Some members of the Citidomes have escaped and built communities in abandoned villages and towns on the outside. Life is hard and very much back to basics. It’s a big leap from the protected and sterile atmosphere of the Citidomes to the rigours of life on the outside, but they’re free to live productive and more normal lives.
Future Perfect is a terrific and well written debut novel. It’s fascinating to follow the story from Caia’s point of view, witnessing her realisation the superficiality of the utopian society she lives in is far from perfect, her ensuing struggles with the feelings she doesn’t initially understand for Mac. After a lifetime of conditioning her beliefs are undergoing a change and she finds it hard to accept that having a loving relationship and ‘coupling’ is gross and dirty as she’s been taught. I love the descriptions of Caia’s discoveries in the real world, from snowflakes to bluebells, the whole concept of being ‘outside’ and able to think and speak for herself without reprisal.
Katrina Mountfort has very cleverly and subtly anticipated and developed the shallowness of, preoccupation with, and devotion to, celebrity perfection and reality TV. It’s unhealthily prevalent and all important to most of the Citidome dwellers. Together with the oppression practised on the populace it’s a frightening yet, at the same time, believable concept of a dystopian future.
The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything.
A dark undercurrent runs through this story; the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty, will appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.