Published by Self-published on 1/28/2012
Genres: Adult, Speculative Fiction
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They promised her that no matter what happened, they would be waiting there for her. They promised that it would only be two weeks, a short vacation, just some time to spend together and away from the daily demands of parenthood. They promised it would be just like going to sleep, and before she knew it, it would be over. These were promises they could not keep.\r\nThey always told Hope that Paradise was the place they would wait--forever. Paradise was where they married long before Hope was born. It was the faith instilled, over and again before placing her in stasis. Just a short respite, a vacation to work things out Hope was too young to understand.\r\nWhile locked in stasis, a solar storm ravages the planet, burning the life from those exposed and bringing society to ruin. Helpless in the stasis pod, Hope absorbs an educational augmentation program, not for two weeks, but for centuries, awaiting her parents’ return.\r\nMichigan, a young hunter in a tribe of hunter-gatherers discovers Hope during a mating contest and awakens her to a world where she inhabits the body of an adult, is emotionally only seven, and the is final vessel of all humanities applied knowledge.\r\nPlagued with the unending monotone voices lecturing knowledge implanted during stasis, Hope tries to adapt to this new world, to this small tribe, themselves failing to illness, to a dwindling food supply, and the unrelenting taking of the Amabo. The Amabo were once a peaceful philanthropic tribe, caring for those survivors unable to care for themselves. Now they are brutal takers. Their culture is one of violence, of dominance, and the collecting of their needs from others. A practice, after so many generations, that has become their birthright.\r\nHope and Michigan resolve to find Paradise, to fulfill the last promise of her parents and free themselves from a world of savage collection.
Paradise is a religious term for a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the supposed miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and idleness.
Paradise is often described as a “higher place”, the holiest place, in contrast to Hell.
Paradise by Jon Fore can only be described as a thought-provoking novel, because while we certainly concentrate on how a true apocalypse can happen (I’m talking, the lights have gone out and say goodbye to 99% of human civilization), we don’t often think too hard about what can come after. But what does come after something of that magnitude? Jon Fore’s novel explores that, and more, by creating a cataclysmic event that gives the world a second chance.
In Paradise, the world as we know it ends abruptly and violently, the seas boiling, humans burning and everything is lights-out. A small percentage of humans survive, including one little girl, Hope, who exists in what can only be described as a time-capsule of sorts, feeding her sustenance and knowledge while the centuries churn by and humanity picks up the pieces. She goes in at seven-years-old with the world in tact; she emerges a young woman to something very different.
Paradise is a very unusual novel, and at times, I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying it, while at other times, I simply couldn’t put it down. Fore has managed to create the kind of “after” that explores what would happen in the event of a “lights-out” situation, but he’s taken it three steps further: humanity isn’t existing just by its leftovers; it’s like it has received a second chance, a do over if you will, and we’ve gone back to the beginning, we’re reinventing the wheel. At times, this premise made for a slow read, with some info-dumping, which was frustrating while reading it. But having finished the book, I now appreciate how he got us from Point A to Point B, because the information was necessary throughout the novel and brought me to love Hope that much more.
I only finished this book a day ago, but I found myself thinking of Hope, and her life for the majority of the day after, and above all, I thought mostly of her purpose. Throughout most of Paradise, I wondered why Hope was special, and what her purpose was. I often thought about the impossibilities of her situation (existing in a glass coffin, for example, after the lights go out) and how Fore would address those (or would he ever???). Honestly, it was a factor that also frustrated me throughout most of the novel but….the ending was so perfect, it answered most of my questions. The rest, I assume, have to do with general religious or holy ideals (don’t worry, there is nothing religious or preachy about Paradise), and I can accept some higher power in the story had a hand in things.
I wish that Fore had explored more of Paradise City, it was such a fascinating portion of the book. A lot went in to the description of the tribe life, but this reader wanted more of life after-tribe, because that was such an integral part of Hope and her “more.” I wish I could go into more, because it was my favorite part of the book, hands-down, but I’d be giving away the farm if I told you any more about it. Overall, I really enjoyed Paradise and the underlying themes (everything you are searching for is there if you look hard enough) that accompanied it. And above all, I loved Hope’s purpose.
There are no winners or losers, just people who quit, and people who don’t.
Disclaimers: This book was provided by the author in exchange of an honest review. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads. *If you decide to purchase this book through any of these links, we do receive a small monetary kick-back that helps fund this blog.