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Libertaria: Genesis (Libertaria Chronicles) (Volume 1) Paperback – October 30, 2015
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While I’m not sure if the book was intended to be YA or just has a YA-aged heroine, it does seem to have many of the hallmarks of YA: a female villain older than the female main character, a family-based secret, a resistance movement that’s “dirty” (in terms of cleanliness), and some sort of genetic or body modification. The setting isn’t particularly new, but it is vivid, showing with words the technological future that Young created in her opera. It’s also extremely diverse, as befits the future, with a cast that is mostly persons of color as well as of all ages and stages of modification.
I definitely admire what Young was doing here by expanding her vision and fleshing it out, giving it more depth and more detail as a novelization. However, I’m not sure that the story was new and different in enough ways to overcome the overcomplications of shifting points of view and quite a lot of POV characters. The story really seemed to be more about the Underground fighters and their connections to each other (Simeon, Miguel and Lucinde, Gabe and everyone else), with Libertaria as more of an afterthought the further the book continued. My best comparison might be to how superpowered Willow became in Buffy season 8; she was so strong that including her in the battle scenes would’ve been pointless. Similarly, Libertaria becomes so powerful as the book goes on that once the reader figures out her abilities it’s pretty clear what’s going to eventually happen.
I was interested in the story in general, and would recommend the book to anyone who’s seen or listened to the opera. Additionally, because this book was staged first, it’s an interesting study in differing ways of storytelling — music versus music-and-video versus book versus book-and-music. My copy of the book happened to have the soundtrack included (there was a free promotion on Amazon at the time), and while I haven’t had time to listen to it yet, it’s definitely on my list. After all, there aren’t very many sci-fi operas — at least, not ones that aren’t treated as a joke. Libertaria: Genesis is dystopian, and good at it, and that needs further examination.
(This review appeared in an expanded form on escapepod.org.)