Lira grows up in the cottages. She is from Earth II, the version of earth that is slowly disappearing. She and other children are being trained as sleepers on a special mission on Earth 1. Slowly, it becomes clear what their mission truly encompasses.
Mythology-wise, The Unquiet leans heavily on the parallel-universe concept which was central to the TV show Fringe. Everything from the alternates, to one earth falling apart while the other lived on, reminded me of Fringe. Probably because I love that show so much and have watched it too many times, but still. Obviously the version in The Unquiet isn’t a carbon copy, but sometimes I wished it distinguished itself more from its source material, especially because the book provides very little world building in itself. It’s never explained why there are two parallel universes, or why the portals between them have formed. Or even more importantly, how can alternates talk to each other on the phone? Lira is not a scientist, but I would have liked some more insights into this.
The strongest point of The Unquiet is probably its atmosphere. The lyrical writing-style evokes a sort of dream-like state, and little pieces of the story are unveiled in a sequence that is not necessarily chronological. Lira’s thoughts are incredibly dark, and the result is a bleak story with only a few pin-pricks of happiness to carry us through. Unlike the deluge of dystopian novels and movies we’ve had the last few years, there is no focus on romance. There isn’t even a romantic subplot until very late in the book (think last quarter), and even then, it fits naturally in the story. Overall, the story is pervaded with this gritty sense of realness, and the plight of Lira’s tough life.
Having discussed the story itself, which is actually pretty good, I’ll now turn towards what I think is highly problematic. If you want to be completely surprised about what the main part of the book is about, it might be a good idea to stop reading. The following doesn’t contain any spoilers for specific events, but it does say about the direction the book takes after Lira leaves the cottages.
The main question, so to speak, of The Unquiet is whether someone who does bad things can still be a good person. And with bad things, I mean kill innocent people. With bad things, I mean knowingly participate in the systematic extermination of people. See where I’m going with this? The question is, can someone who participates in genocide be a good person? This question of what is good is better is honestly something to each individual reader of this book is going to have to decide for themselves. As honestly, I felt that unless someone was truly in a situation where they had to consider the worst of all options to save not only their own lives, but the lives of their family not to mention an entire planet no one would know exactly what they would do, and if it was possible for them to be a good person.
Aside from the unanswerable question of what makes a good person. This was a truly interesting read, as it makes you think about your place in the world and the lengths that you would go to, to protect what is yours. This question of “what makes a good person.” is why the book may be problematic for some readers.
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