Available in selected bookstores nationwide.
I don’t read a huge amount of dystopian novels, mostly on the basis that the really good ones scare me. You can see how the circumstances could come about. Easily. I’m thinking of classics like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the World Began.
MiStory, by Philip Temple, definitely passes the scare test.
Here’s the setting. New Zealand, sometime in the not-too-distant future. Multiple catastrophes have occurred – climate change and coastal flooding, invasion of Australia, threats to New Zealand’s own security, other wars on other continents, pandemics, possibly some sort of nuclear attack. The government has created a state of emergency that has lasted more than a decade, and now actively monitor the minutiae of citizens’ lives through pervasive technology. Democracy is dead. The only form of news about events within New Zealand and from around the world is heavily edited propaganda.
Told entirely via the entries in a “paperbook” – part personal journal, part documentary – written by siblings John and Sophie, MiStory covers themes of loss, awakening, resistance and justice. The entries crack along at a great pace that keep you turning the pages – I devoured the book in three short sessions, and would have liked to have finished it in one!
John is trying to rebuild his life after the sudden death of his partner Annie, and still mourning their child who had died in a pandemic five years earlier. His sister Sophie is mysterious and unavailable, appearing and disappearing unexpectedly over the years. Why was Annie quickly cremated without an autopsy? What is Sophie really up to? And why has John been offered a new job?
MiStory isn’t perfect. Prime Minister John Locke and a Minister Brownleigh would appear to be thinly veiled digs at the current government, and regardless of your politics, the joke wore a bit thin. The English language has evolved a bit in MiStory’s world, and it can be hard to keep track of some of the new lingo, and some of the new spellings (although Temple’s play with words is very clever, once you get the hang of the new vernacular). The ending is a bit too neat – but it’s the journey to the ending that will have you turning the pages.
Recommended. Go buy it.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
by Philip Temple
Published by Font Publishing