For the past few months, we’ve been reading six more semi-finalists from the inaugural SPSFC. Today we’ve got the second full review of these six, which is of Mikhaeyla Kopievsky’s Resistance. This book has an SPSFC rating of 5.00 out of 10.
Some genres are more popular than others. Space Opera, for example, is beloved by many (myself included), whereas Cyberpunk is more of an acquired taste (one that I don’t have). One genre that has been very popular for well over a decade now, is dystopian fiction. And nowhere is this more popular than on the shelves of young adult readers. Take a look at the success of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, and you’ll get an idea of how staggeringly massive the audience for this sort of science fiction is. It’s not really that surprising that the inaugural SPSFC saw numerous entrants whose work could easily be classified as Young Adult Dystopian fiction. Unfortunately, this is also a genre that hasn’t proven very popular with judges across all ten teams.
Here At Boundary’s Edge, we saw two strong YA entrants knocked out early on. Not because Sand Runner or Tracker220 were bad books, but because they weren’t the sort of books we enjoy reading. It’s a problem that was bound to come up when the judging team is comprised of adult readers (and one slightly grouchy adult at that). Resistance falls foul of that same genre aversion. Strictly speaking, I don’t think Resistance is truly a YA novel. It’s certainly not marketed as one. But it has all the hallmarks of that storytelling style. The oppressive regime, the story of resistance and the power of the individual. For our judges, the story it was telling wasn’t one we were compelled by.
Leaving aside the debatable YA element, I have a personal aversion to dystopias for one very simple reason: I rarely find them that bad. When I read about a society that chooses a person’s occupation for them, I just think ‘Yay. Guaranteed employment.’ The same goes for a lot of the other tropes that come with the territory. A controlled life sound quite nice, to be honest. And then there’s the issue of the inevitable resistance movements. It’s a fine line between balancing the needs of the individual and the needs of larger society, and glamourising terrorist activity. All too often, dystopian fiction glorifies acts of violence without fully thinking through the inevitable collateral damage. Resistance (as the name suggests) is no exception.
If you’re more into dystopias and rebellions, then you’ll probably enjoy this a lot more than I did. Kopievsky’s writing is clean and precise, with not a word wasted. The element-based society is something you don’t often see in science fiction. Even if the constant mention of Fire Elementals did put me in mind of many a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, it’s a fun twist on the usual caste systems. Resistance might not be to my tastes, but it’s hard to say it’s done anything terribly wrong either.