Joan the Made
As part of my participation in various giveaways, I’ve been reading and reviewing some of the more interesting books. Here’s my review of “Joan the Made.”
How do you run a successful rebellion?
That’s the question that Joan Fasces, a clone of the original Joan of Arc, has to answer in “Joan the Made,” a Young Adult sci-fi tale about a plucky group of teenagers standing up to an oppressive society.
As can be guessed by this brief summary, “Joan the Made” is both your typical YA book, and not. It has the high-spirited group of teenagers with the requisite sexual tension and potential love triangle. It has the Chosen One at its center, who struggles with her destiny. It has a dystopian society–in this case, not post-apocalyptic, but a high-tech society whose glitter obscures the rotten underbelly beneath. It has a boarding school, that perfect place for adolescents to transition away from parental supervision while still being under adult control.
This can sound formulaic, but the formula is popular because it often works, as it does here. And “Joan the Made” has a lot of interesting elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Most of the characters are clones of famous people, who struggle with just how “original” they are. Does someone who’s an exact genetic replica of Joan of Arc have any ability to escape being a visionary fighter for her people? Is a clone of Marilyn Monroe doomed to sexual exploitation and suicide? What about clones of Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, and Robespierre–can they ever be trusted? And what’s the best way to fight for minority rights in an oppressive and uncaring society? How much violence is necessary, and how much is too much?
“Joan the Made” asks these questions without entirely answering them, something that is probably left to the sequel. It’s a thought-provoking YA book probably best suited for older adolescents, as it deals fairly explicitly in some dark topics such as sexual assault and suicide, while still being a little too teenage-y for readers looking for adult-oriented books. Overall, thought, a fun and engaging read that will probably appeal quite a lot to idealistic and thoughtful teenagers, and something I could see sparking a lot of discussion amongst my first-year college students.