Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Divided Kingdom

Continuing my fascination with dystopian/anti-utopian themes, I just finished reading Divided Kingdom, the latest book from Rupert Thomson.

This book starts right off with the action as the story follows a young protagonist thrust into the political/people reorganization of a near future and severely ailing Great Britain. Desperate to curb the disintegration of their country, leaders decide to take drastic new measures and divide the country into 4 distinct and separate kingdoms (thus the name). Individual people are reassigned to geographic areas according to their personality/psychological types and are immediately bombarded with the requisite propaganda & symbology needed to make such a radical change happen. Imagine Meyers-Briggs typological exam gone political...and nuts.

The creepiest (and most interesting) thing about this seemingly unrealistic take on an alternate future is that it actually IS plausible, especially in light of some of the more hideous socio-political experiments of the 20th century - Nazi Germany/Final Solution, the Berlin split afterwards, Pol Pot's army of children, Communist Russia, etc. In fact, Rupert Thomson lived in (divided) Berlin at one point and names that experience as the influence for this novel. The main character goes through all four countries, some illegally, which gives the novel a fast pace and lots of visual and experiential texture. Excellent weekend read