I am very excited to welcome a new author to the list. For anyone who knows me well, they'll know one of my favourite books of all times is Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
So much so that I wrote about it at University, many, many moons ago, for my dissertation. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive a submission that read like a YA version for today's social media-obsessed and body conscious teenager.
What happens when you find out everything you’ve been taught is a lie? And that you are so much more than you’ve been led to believe?
Currently called The Tertiary Code, the story is set in an alternative reality to ours (although if things continue the way they're going with people like Trump in power then it, sadly, may seem more like fact than fiction). Our narrator is a young woman, Anna, seemingly narcissistically obsessed with her social standing, her looks, her image on the web and keeping up with the in-crowd in school who rule the corridors with a mixture of flamboyance and fear. What we soon come to realise that this is all a survival mechanism.
Anna lives in a world where there are legally three genders: the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary.
With religious doctrine controlling their lives and a dictatorial government determined to ensure conformity within the social roles – there’s no such thing as rebellion, speaking out, being your own person – not if you want to stay alive. Coded from birth, controlled, watched and punished for any 'aberration' - this is not a place where you want to stand out - or be different.
This is a society where each person must comply with their allocated roles and are subject to subtle, yet pervasive controls on their thoughts and behaviour. Everything from education to their home life is carefully orchestrated – designed to keep each sex within their allocated group. Any form of sexual curiosity – the slightest hint of non-conformity is enough for you to be sent for reconditioning. And – should that fail – then recoded as a 'Tertiary' and shunned by society, subject to oppressive ‘sexual hygiene’ laws and ‘castrated’ by drugs.
Against this dystopian background, Anna tries to live her life, quietly, normally – but when her closest friend gets taken for reconditioning, Anna starts to question everything she’s been taught.
The author, Rebecca Ann Smith was born in Kent and grew up reading John Wyndham and Ursula Le Guin and creating fantastical worlds in her head. She is passionate about feminism and social justice and seeks to write engaging, entertaining fiction for teenagers
Her work as an arts/education consultant has included projects with the Charleston Trust, East Sussex, The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, and Theatre Centre, London. She has lived in Newcastle, London, Chiang Mai and Brighton and is now settled in Sussex where she lives with her husband and two sons.
Rebecca and I are working on the script and will be sending out this year. It's one hell of a read and I can't wait to share it.