Many people would say that adolescence is one of, if not the, roughest period of their lives. This is a time of self-discovery, of finding one’s identity and, of course, transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
You think your teenage years are rough? Meet Goro and his friends, who have the challenge of growing up in a 23rd century totalitarian world government that mandates all of its citizens have an identity chip implanted into themselves.
‘Sovereignty’ by Anjenique Hughes is a coming-of-age young adult tale with a twist. As Goro, the teenage narrator, tells about his life living in a dystopic world, the reader understands that not only does he have to deal with typical teenager problems such as curfew (although government mandated), but must do so under strict state control and therefore struggles (if that’s an understatement) to break free from it.
However seemingly far removed Goro’s world is from 2017, he and his friends Alex and Cory are still relatable characters.
Author Anjenique Hughes renders a wonderfully surrealistic fictional future with a lot of dramatic irony: the ‘Hall of Digital Archives’ where ancient (read: 20th century) films, TV shows and animal documentaries are housed; the capital of the Sovereign Regime (S.R.) is in the area formerly known as Los Angeles, and not Washington, D.C.; and something called ‘comlink’ has taken the place of any form of social media.
Quotes by famous historical figures such as George Orwell, Mahatma Ghandi, and Friedrich Nietzsche start each chapter. This is a good way for the reader to understand what will happen in each installment, as each chapter has a theme and, in turn, a moral about survival, technology vs. humanity, and poverty.
If anything, ‘Sovereignty’ lets readers know that there is hope and they have a purpose no matter how horrible their situation is. Just as Goro searches for his purpose in S.R.’s world, so everyone has a purpose whether that person acknowledges it or has yet to tap into it.