This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.Fast forward some 50-60 years from today. It is now two generations since the collapse of the Social Media Era and governments have been replaced by The Association of Psychologists, who have taken control of social order through scientific means. Their solution to the sky-rocketing rates of divorce, crime and mental illness that reached their heights during the Social Media Era is to engage in widespread personality profiling of every citizen when they reach the age of twelve, at which point they are then sent off to schools to be educated with their personality ‘Type’. Internet access is banned for anyone under the age of 18 and even adults have to apply for a special permit before they can access the internet. All dystopian novels that were prevalent in the pre-Type era – The Hunger Games, The Uglies, The Long Walk, 1984 and Neuromancer – have been banned by the Association as being harmful to the vulnerable, developing minds of children.
When Sophie Jenkins, youngest daughter of one of the Association’s leading Psychologists, discovers that her best friend Arron has been assessed as an ‘ISTJ’, she decides to fudge her own assessment, even though she is an Extra, so that she will be assigned to the same Home School as Arron. When Arron wants nothing to do with Sophie, she decides to make the best of a bad situation and makes some new friends. In the process, Sophie discovers that this Association controlled social order is not as altruistic as the public believes it to be and that Harmony, the facility where children with genetic mental illnesses and non-genetic personality disorders are sent to for treatment, engages in activities that for some of its residents, are fatal. The Association is not quite as in control of every facet of life as the Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil franchise is, but you get my drift.
Hendley, a Canadian author and a practicing clinical psychologist, has taken the rather well known personality test, the Myers Brigg Type Indicator, or MBTI, and has used it as the basis on which to build her near future YA dystopian novel. This was a good page-turning read for me. Hendley has done a great job capturing the personality and spirit of young twelve year old Sophie and her struggles to find who she can trust in the sinister world she finds herself getting involved in. Her use of the MBTI in the story is nicely balanced with the story and the plot. You don’t have to know about the MBTI to appreciate the sinister twist Hendley has given to the Association, or to understand the story. The dystopian elements are well represented here in a believable context. I liked how Hendley brings the concept of death to the story but leave them as events that occur in the background or ‘off stage’, relying on emotional attachments of the characters to communicate the horror instead of graphic details. My only quibble with this one is the book just sort of…. stops. The ending left me saying “….. And…..?” while looking for the next part to start. It is an okay ending if a second book is planned but for a stand alone novel, the ending was a bit of a problem for me.
Overall, a good, dystopian story that was easy for me to visualize and relate to… which is a little scary in itself!