March 4, 2014

The Balance by Neal Wooten

Canus is a land in which three races of man live in precarious balance with one another. The Fathers of the city in the sky, the Scavs (who call themselves The Spirit People), and the Children all rely upon one another for certain resources, a reliance kept in careful check by a system of rules and perpetuated by fear and ignorance.

Piri is a young man of The Fathers who has no idea that the Scavs and The Children exist until the day his transport falls from the sky, leaving him stranded on The Surface. He is rescued by Niko, one of the Children, who takes Piri to stay with his family until they can find a way to return him to the City.

Once Piri recovers from his ordeal he has to come to terms with a drastically different way of life. The sterile, dispassionate life he's always known is very different from the lives of the Children, who work hard, play hard, and form close relationships. They are strictly governed by a tome known as The Book, which promises swift and terrible punishment if the rules imposed upon them by the Fathers are not carefully observed. Most concerning of all is the Children's practice of sending away hundreds of their young people every seventh day, supposedly to live in the City; but Piri has never seen any of the Children in the city. He knows something is terribly wrong, but can't figure out what it is.

As time passes, Piri begins to accept that he will never go home and becomes an integral part of the Children's society. He finds himself making friends and falling in love with Niko, his rescuer. He finds ways to improve the Children's lives, some of which are rejected out of fear of The Book. But there's trouble too; the fearsome Scavs' raids have become more frequent and invasive.

When Piri's rescue finally arrives, he has to decide if he can put his exciting new life behind him and return to a passionless existence in the City, thereby restoring the balance, or if he can find a way to solve the mystery surrounding The Book and help the Children escape from their oppression.

The story is filled with subtle innuendos. Judging by the language on The Surface, which is a hybrid of English, Spanish, and Canadian words and phrases, I assume the land "Canus" is derived from Canada and the US. The three subspecies: the Fathers, the Children, and the Spirit People are a jab at the Holy Trinity. The Children even live in an area called the "Garden" where it is forbidden to eat the fruit. These are just a few of many ambiguous references hidden in the writing.  

The Balance is an exciting new take on HG Wells' The Time Machine, and like The Time Machine it causes the reader to consider the machinations of our own modern societies and the choices we make within -or without- those systems. It also explores new ways of looking at friendship, compassion, and love. Piri's adventure is one that will stay with the reader for a long time.

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12 comments:

  1. I really like The Time Machine, so am intrigued!

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  2. The Time Machine and The Balance officially made it on my "must-read" list after reading this post. Thanks for the review.

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  4. This Sounds wonderful, I would like to start reading this..

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  9. The Balance by Neal Wooten is one of my favorite books to read just like you are reading the book of star wars, and the maze runner trilogy.

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