Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Slave Audio

Slave Audio

Laura Frances
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: B06XNYJ4BK
Laura Frances, 2017 

For her whole life Hannah has lived in a smog-filled valley where the bulk of the population belongs to one of three groups. The Workers spend their days toiling in factories and workshops, making the products that the people living in the country need. They are told that their industry is vital for the comfort of their fellow citizens, but they are not offered any comfort in return for their labors. Instead, they are given the basic necessities for survival: barely enough food, a one room living unit to sleep in, and basic clothing.

The Workers are watched over by the second group of people who live in valley, the Watchers. These individuals make sure that the labor force obeys the laws that govern their lives. Workers cannot leave their units after dark, nor can they talk to anyone at work or as they walk to and from work. They must be submissive, and the Watchers assure their compliance by punishing anyone who does not do what is expected of them.

The last group in the population are the Outcasts. These are the people who are too old or too sick to work. The state does not take care of them and their life expectancy is very short indeed. They live on the streets, scavenging for what they can find. The fear of being forced to become an Outcast hangs over all the Workers.

Ruling over these three groups is the Council, a group of five shadowy figures who keep the Workers oppressed, without rights, and without a voice so that they are, to all intents and purposes, slaves.

When she was a child Hannah’s parents impressed on her the need to comply with the rules, to be obedient, and not to draw attention to herself. They were both killed by the Watchers when she was eight and Hannah has had to live alone in their family unit ever since. Every day she trudges to work, dreading that one of the Watchers on the street will see something in her that he or she does not like. Crushed by fear and hopelessness she never imagines that her life will ever be different.

Then one night Hannah is woken up by the sound of explosions and gunfire. When an explosion blows out the window in her unit she dares to open the door, wanting to check on her neighbors. A boy standing outside her door tells her that “They’ll be coming” and that they need to go. The boy is dressed like an Outcast, but he is far too clean and healthy to be one of the street people.

What follows is a terrifying journey across the city. Hannah and many other Workers are lead through the streets by other people dressed as Outcasts. Hannah knows that these people are not Outcasts at all. They are Watchers. Why are the Watchers doing this? The boy who collected Hannah from her home, Edan, tells a terrified and wary Hannah that yes, he is a Watcher, but he is trying to save her and the other Workers.

Hannah has always been taught to fear Watchers. They are “bad,” and they never take care of anyone. All the same, it does looks as if Edan and his friends are helping the fleeing Workers. After what feels like an interminable, frantic dash through the streets, during which many of the Workers are killed, Hannah and the other Workers who have survived are led into a brick building. She is told that that what has happened is “the beginning,” of “the revolution.”

Hannah and the other Workers are given food, they get to have hot showers, and their wounds are cleaned and bound up. No one can understand why Watchers are helping them and why they are leading this revolution against the establishment. No one knows how to behave or what to do, but as the days pass, Hannah begins to understand that she is now allowed to talk to other people, and she can look them in the eye, instead of walking around looking down. She is even given the opportunity to help the cause, and goes on a mission to steal medicine that is desperately needed by the Watchers who are helping the Workers break free. For the first time in her life she is doing something for others, and for herself at the same time.

As the days unfold more and more secrets are revealed. Hannah finds out why the medicine she stole is needed, and she also finds out that she is not who she thinks she is. She has been lied to by the establishment her whole life.

This gripping dystopian story will hold on to listeners throughout the narrative. Just when you think you know all there is to know, something startling and unexpected happens to unsettle you and present you with a new truth or revelation.