4.5 stars - I thought this was a pretty phenomenal sci-fi read, and one of the better books I’ve read in a while.
I would qualify Freedom as primarily sci-fi, with an m/m romance as secondary. The romance in it is definitely meaningful, but this is a sci-fi/dystopia novel first.
The story follows empath Patrick who is tasked with helping a mysterious and withdrawn John Doe who had survived a vicious assault in the Outside, the wilds beyond the City where Patrick lives and works (and which is tightly controlled and monitored by the government.)
Using his empathic powers, Patrick works through the puzzle that is his mystery patient, and slowly the man unveils before him, and the discovery reveals new truths, sensations, and feelings that Patrick had never considered before in his stark, clean, protected, and touch-free world.
Reading this, I was reminded of the free dystopian reads The God Eaters, with its similar themes of government testing and also Esperanza, with its themes of growing new societies, and how often those communities need to be poly in order to survive. I also was reminded of the YA classic The Giver, since both works deal with the awakening of its MC from one belief system to another.
For those who dislike poly-romance, don’t worry. It doesn’t take over the love developing between the two MCs, but it’s definitely part of this new world, and is really one more layer of the “Freedom” that the characters are fighting for.
I thought this was a wonderful read as well as being very surprising and different. It has a few things that I usually don’t like (multiple POVs and also shifting 3rd to 1st, depending on the section) but overall, the story was strong enough that it didn’t bother me too much. The first 60% I think was the strongest, as it closely focuses on the unveiling of Jac and the growing intimacy between Jac and “Parri”, but really I thought the whole book was a very worthwhile read and very well-paced, so I never wanted to put it down, and when I did, I often thought about it, and wanted to get back to it.
If I had a down point, it would be that I wished the epilogue had been a little bit more embellished. I think that’s the romance fan in me wanting more together-time after the journey.
For fans of future, sci-fi, and dystopia stories, I really recommend it. This will be on my top reads for the year, (and since it seems to be really under the radar, is a contender for most under-hyped. Maybe that can change by the end of this year...)
Great book. Highly recommended. And this is the author’s first and only novel so far. I very much hope she writes more. She’s a voice to watch.
This review was first posted at Boys in our Books: