Review: Meritropolis by Joel Ohman
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
Publisher: Create Space
Published: September 8, 2014
The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment--to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn't an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing--not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science--is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn't possibly have bargained for...
Meritropolis follows the story of a boy named Charlie whose high score makes him a valuable asset to the city in which he resides. However, that all changes when Charley witness a young girl about to be cast outside the gates. No longer willing to be a complacent participant to his cities System, Charley does the unthinkable and stands up for the rights of those seen as less valuable than himself. However, by doing so, Charley starts the wheels in motion for something to be revealed far greater than himself. Something that could bring the system to its very knees if he's not careful.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the story was that the main protagonist Charley was male. Granted he does eventually wind up with a female side kick but for the most part the stories focus is on him. Charley was a great character. He was an all around good guy and believed in equality for all. I can't wait to see where the story takes him in the future.
Another thing I liked was no love triangle. Sure, the story has some minor flirtations but it isn't the sole focus for these characters. Now obviously that could change in the future but for now I quite enjoyed the lack of Romance in the story.
Lastly, I liked how fast paced the story was. The writing was just so good that the pages just flew by. If not for having to stop and look at the pictures of each crazy animal combination created I'd probably have finished quicker than I did.
Now even though I enjoyed Meritropolis I did have a few problems with the story that kept me from rating it higher.
First off, I wish we had more back story on the event. We know that something catastrophic happened, sure, but we don't know what exactly it was. Also we know that a walled city had been prepared and then filled for a certain number of individuals but how did they find all the people to fill it? Plus if numbers were so important why allow those Intellectually lacking inside in the first place? A simple IQ test before entry could have saved a ton of headache for the so called system later on.
Another thing I didn't like was how complacent the people were. The time frame for this novel is less than a decade. Certainly short enough for both the young protagonists and adults in the story to question the System more than they do. Maybe if this was 50 years on from the event but less than 9 I just don't buy.
Lastly, while I commend the Author for creating bizarre mutations such as Scorpicons and Bull-Lions some were just way too silly (Manatee Eels and the duck lobsters spring to mind) and I think these monstrosities took away from the ones that were actually really interesting and terrifying. Plus I just don't buy that literally every animal in existence has been transformed this way. Maybe just those outside the walls of Meritropolis sure but all, no.
While I did certainly enjoy Meritropolis and the world Joel Ohman created, I definitely felt something was missing by the stories end. While I will undoubtedly read a sequel should one ever be published, I hope it allows us to have some sort of closure for these characters be it them succeeding or failing to overthrow the system that enslaves them all. Overall, I highly recommend fans of the genre pick this one up and give it a go. The story is well written, fast paced and the lead character is a male which is something you don't see often, especially in Young Adult Dystopians of late.
With that being said, I'll be rating Meritropolis by Joel Ohman ★★★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by Author. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the Author
Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis--"The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist". He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.