Cheryl Gray, |
Immune has a very promising storyline, combining elements from many of the most popular futuristic/sci-fi titles of the past. A drug that makes the population lethargic, uncaring and meek has been slipped into the country's water supply, clearing the way for a semi-theocratic dictatorship reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale. This coalition, known as G.O.D. (Guardians of Democracy), has eliminated alcohol, drugs, poverty and pollution, but they have also outlawed sex, driven most women out of the workforce and instigated a Big Brotherish system of bugged phone lines, monitored computers and android spies. And the true power players are revealed to be just as corrupt as ever! It is really quite scary how feasible the whole thing sounds.
The protagonist, Dr. Mayton Rude, is among the 2 percent of the population that is immune to the effect of the drug, and he struggles with his memories of the time before, of the many people eliminated in purges (a la Stalin) and his duties, which include turning in any patients with "liberal tendencies" that he may encounter. When he is approached by other immunes, he becomes involved in a plot to distribute an antidote that would return the people to normal. However, the government has other plans.
The ending is not exactly what you would expect, and I'll give just one hint: it's not a happily ever after kind of thing. Now, there are flashes of humor throughout the book. For instance, the following passage describing the weekend rituals of the new society shows definite sarcastic flair:
"Every Saturday at precisely ten hundred hours, the sound of lawn mowers filled the air and by eleven hundred hours, it was again silent. Anyone lucky enough to own a Solis automobile then washed it. Those who didn't own one simply watched the ritual. ... Sunday was barbecue day in the suburbs. Each block of houses had a block supervisor that designated Host duties on a rotation basis. Every Sunday was treated like a once a year party. Everyone ate one hamburger and one hotdog and gushed endlessly about the marvelous lemonade."
And G.O.D.'s version of history, featuring General Orson Welles and General Hanz Solo saving the world from Martian invasion -- a constant threat, the sheeplike public is led to believe -- is truly clever. But overall, the tale is really rather sad.
Unfortunately, the narrative and editing don't always live up to the promise of the story. The dialogue is weak in spots, inconsistent and "jerky." It seems to be not quite finished. There are also too many errors that should have been caught by the proofreaders, which are distracting, drawing the reader's attention away from the story.
However, despite the weaknesses of Immune, there were nice moments throughout the book, and I think Gray's future releases definitely bear watching.