Publication Date: December 16, 2013
In Provoke Not the Children by Michael W. Anderson, The people of the future United States are focused on personal development maximization. Parenting is a distraction for its growth, so when the children are infants they’re given to Proxies to raise to adulthood. So who is watching the Proxies? Chase Sterm is a Proxy Review Officer who exposes widespread abuse in the Proxy system. When that system fails, the Government is forced to send children to reprogramming centers. What comes at the end of the reprogramming may surprise everyone.
The author, Michael W. Anderson, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Provoke Not the Children is a shocking cautionary tale. Anderson’s future shows seeds of a start in our own world. People are increasingly self-absorbed and parenting less. Children are raising themselves and becoming more violent. The gangs described in this novel are brutal in a way that maybe children already are. Anderson describes ascending to the Elite, those people who have maximized themselves to potential as the goal of modern life. Nothing matters but who you are and where you live. In the Deep Suburbs — a landscape described as bleakly dangerous where children run wild — hope is lost. Chase finds an abandoned group of children kept in cages and writes the encounter in such a matter-of-fact way that the scene tears into the reader’s soul.
Chase is not an observer. He’s a man who has renounced maximization. He was on a track to the Elite when it became clear to him that this is not what life should be about. He cares deeply. We attend the fifteenth birthday party of his children with him. Children that he spent time with after renouncing maximization when he couldn’t afford a Proxy and for whom he feels a deep connection. He is a man out of place in a world where people only consider how things impact themselves. He is a man willing to do what he must do to make his world a version of right that everyone can enjoy.
Anderson’s writing style is fast-paced and eloquent. The action he writes is economical and yet impactful. Anderson works on his plot points. You won’t find any lazy writing in Provoke Not the Children. Loose ends are wrapped, whether you like the way they turn out or not. Chase is lucky enough to connect with a senator at a high level of government who no longer has a need or motivation to maximize. She’s risen from the deep suburbs back when parents raised their own children and recognizes how truly she turned her back on this region. She’s ready to help. Anderson either did a lot of editing or instinctively knew which details to keep and cut in painting this future landscape.
Readers of this blog may get the idea that I liked this novel. Oh, yes. It was engaging and entrancing. A brilliant new work by a promising author, part horror and part human interest story. The way that Anderson ends his novel is electrifying in its brilliance. This is an author who takes a chance and I loved it. If you’re interested in stories set in the not too distant future and like a little Orwellian flavor in your fiction, Provoke Not the Children is a novel to pick up today. Don’t wait. Go buy this novel immediately and let me know what you think.
Read an excerpt and buy Provoke Not the Children by Michael W. Anderson on