“Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet. Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint has made her extremely valuable and upon graduation Blanca, and those like her, are sold to the highest bidders.”
Most people reading Genesis Girl probably spent the entire novel contemplating the effects of technology on their life (as can be seen in the plethora of Amazon reviews), but I was instead stumped by something different.
It’s a pet peeve that almost ruined this book for me: the overdone trope of a virtuous character [spoiler alert] turning against her long-held, deep-set beliefs. I could not help but feel it was a stab at organised religion. What’s so bad about having higher values? Why do YA novels (in particular) paint the picture that sacrifice and self-discipline and purity are bad? Why are people so adverse, so afraid of those who practice such things? Why are these qualities seen as unnatural and that they should be stamped out? Whilst Bardsley didn’t go to the extremes I feared she might in Blanca’s character arc, there was enough resistance of Blanca’s values by both Seth and Cal her ‘concerned loved ones’ to make my mind ponder these questions.
Not only that, but the story began with the Internet seen as evil and the graduates of Tabula Rasa School as a presence of light in a dark world. Yet by the end, Blanca essentially does a 180-degree switch. After spending 18 years believing one thing, I don’t think she would be so willing to open herself up to another way of thinking and turn her back entirely on what she had believed so faithfully her whole life. I would have liked to see a more balanced resolution – that one should not swing to either extreme of Internet addiction or Internet virginity but rather settle on a happy medium.
Having said that, I really did love the premise of this story – of a girl raised in a tech-addicted world yet she herself never even having had her own photo taken, let alone used the Internet. I think this is a really relevant topic to explore during our time and I loved Bardsley’s take on it with the introduction of the Tabula Rasa School in opposition to this dystopian near-future.
I could really see this story played out on the big screen. Her platinum cuff, the Vestal blessing, the white clothing – it was a very visual story that I would see in a heartbeat if they made it into a movie.
It’s a mostly clean novel suited to high schoolers. I can’t wait to read book two – Damaged Goods – which will be released on January 17. I have the honour of taking part in the Month9Books blog hop for its release, so stay tuned for my review on January 24th.