Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jane Redd
For ages 12 and up
Mirror Press, 2016   ISBN: 978-1941145692

For the last thirty-seven years it has been raining almost continuously. After three years of rain, the U.S. Government announced that there was nothing they could do to help the citizens of the country survive the shocking climactic conditions. Martial law replaced the Constitution, and life in the United States began to change. By the fifth year after the rains began, all the children who were still alive began to focus on studies in science and technology. They became the hope of the future. They had to be the ones who would save humankind before it was too late. I

Much of what was once land is now under water. Jezebel lives in one of the few surviving cities, which is located in the Sawatch Mountains in what was once Colorado. The city is only five hundred feet above the water level, and the situation is looking increasingly grim.

To keep the population law abiding and compliant, the settlement’s ruling body, the Legislature, has put laws into place. These laws include making it illegal for anyone to be a member of a religious group, and it is against the law for people to fall in love. It is the job of all the citizens “to preserve our resources and work towards a secure future. We will sacrifice as one with the single goal in mind…” In short, the people are expected to do as they are told and to accept the positions in life, and the life partners, that the Legislature gives them. Young people who show promise are educated to become future scientists and leaders, and they become members of the A Level. Those who are not deemed worthy of this become members of the lower levels, and they become factory workers and fill other menial jobs.

To ensure that everyone abides by their laws, the Legislature has made sure that every citizen has a Harmony chip planted in their right shoulder. The purpose of the device is to suppress all strong emotions. What the Legislature does not know is that Jezebel’s Harmony chip does not seem to have any effect on her. She feels all the normal range of emotions, but she has to keep these emotions hidden because she is special.

Jezebel’s mother placed a second chip, the Carrier key, under her daughter’s skin, thus making her a Carrier. All Jez has to do is to make sure that she ends up in A Level. She needs to become a scientist so that she can learn all she can about the generators that the government built in the second year of the rains. The generators could be the only hope that human kind has. The current regime refuses to try to use them because, it is said, doing so would be risky. Perhaps the bigger issue is the fact that if the generators succeed in their purpose, the Legislature would have a hard time retaining a stranglehold on the people in the city.

Jez has worked very hard to get where she is. She has kept her emotions hidden, she has studied hard, and she has focused on getting accepted into the University so that she can do her duty as the Carrier. Her chances of being accepted are looking good, and then she makes a terrible mistake. When her father dies, he leaves her a box and in it there is a journal which belonged to Jez’s grandmother. Though she knows that she should hand the book over to the authorities, Jez holds onto it, and she reads the entries. She is shocked to find out that her grandmother was a Carrier, and that she wrote openly about the need to bring down the Legislature so that people could once again have their “dignity.” In addition, she fell in love with someone, and she acted on that love. She broke countless laws and she was caught.

Though Jez tries to keep the book a secret, it is found and she is sent to a prison. In the prison she is subjected to tests and she is watched even more than she was before. Jez finds out that other prisoners are being subjected to tests that destroy their minds. She meets someone who is like her, a boy whose emotions are not controlled by the Harmony chip. Jez cannot help wondering how many other people in the city are like her. How many of them can feel emotions, and how many of them have an agenda that opposes the Legislature.

This often chilling book takes readers into a world where people’s every move is watched and analyzed. Rules are in place that strip away their individuality and that deny them what we would consider to be basic human rights. It is fascinating to see how the leaders justify their regime, and we cannot help wondering how Jez is going to survive. Plot twists keep us on our toes, and just when we think we understand what is going on something occurs that puts a whole new light on the situation.