The Office of Mercy is a young adult dystopian story. I have noticed a trend–the last few dystopian books I’ve read are using the ‘1984’ ending, and while that packed a powerful (and depressing) punch, I much prefer the ‘Fahrenheit 451’ type ending.
I’ll say for a YA book it’s pretty good; I’m very sure I wouldn’t have seen the holes in the arguments for why things were done as they were and thus would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I were a teenager. As it is, I’ve read enough and thought enough about the issues presented that things just didn’t quite fit well enough to make the story ‘great’.
Natasha Wiley is an Epsilon, the youngest generation currently living in America-Five, only 24 years old. She works for the Office of Mercy. Her whole department’s job is to euthanize all the poor people who migrate through America Five’s territory in an effort to help prevent their future suffering. That’s right, the job of the Office of Mercy to kill off those not “fit” for the community for their own good. It is a very Orwellian naming convention and that also hints to things yet to come.
America-Five is one of a small number of communities around the globe that have ‘weathered’ the ‘Storm’ relatively unscathed over the last 300+ years. What we learn is that the oldest generation, the Alphas, have been around since the Storm and might have even been instrumental in creating it. They are also the ‘parents’ of all the following generations. They waited decades before creating the Betas. All the generations since the Alphas have worked together and improved life sustaining medicine and so far it has made the Alphas virtually immortal.
I did enjoy this book and it had a lot of ideas to make one think. However, I felt that the arguments could have been better done for both sides. If I had read this back in high school I likely would have thought it a brilliant book, but these days the arguments presented felt a bit weak and that is the big reason for the median star rating. Overall, a fun and interesting read.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.