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The International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction Review

The Cure, by Michael Coleman
Published by Orchard Books
Paperback (Oct 2008)
ISBN:1846163455; ISBN13: 9781846163456
Chris Burden review


"1984" meets "Annie" in this story full of life lessons for a contemporary youth. Set in the year 274 AD (After Darwin) we are granted access to an alternate version of what our world could become. But don’t be fooled, this is not historical fiction; it is in fact science fiction. Set nearly 80 years into the future Coleman creates a post-revolution world that has banned all religion and instead follows the laws of Science, centred on the theories of their "Saviour", Charles Darwin.

Set in a world that has been dramatically changed due to an act of terrorism by religious extremists, "The Cure" could not be more relevant to today’s more socially aware youth. Many readers will be too young to remember the exact events of 9/11 but they will have noticed how burdened society has been as a result of it, including the ongoing activity in the Middle East. This book is a welcome lesson to us all, teaching us how not to deal with such actions, and re-establishing the importance of faith in a world that has become much less stable in a short amount of time.

The story focuses on fifteen-year-old orphan, Raul, as he starts to question the world in which he lives. When it is discovered he is an "unbeliever" of the imposed culture of his people he is sent to the Sanitarium to be ‘cured’ and re-indoctrinated into the system.

Coleman manages to create an entire new world, a world so different to ours yet so familiar, with expertise and subtlety. His talent as a writer is never in doubt, managing to make the mundane seem sublime, captivating the reader’s imagination. Choosing dialogue rather than long descriptive passages, Coleman allows the reader to discover this new world gradually without giving away too much information too soon, enticing the reader to read on and enter even further. My only criticism of this is that his process is often too slow and too many questions are raised without answers for too long, frustrating the reader. This could perhaps, however, be Coleman’s intention, allowing the reader to empathise with the angry Raul, frustrated at the establishment he no longer accepts. This would be further emphasised by the delicate but believably sinister tone that Coleman manages to inject into the story from the very first page, creating an immediate distrust of the world in which Raul lives.

In a society that seems to grant celebrity status to any fool regardless of talent, "The Cure" is a bright light through the fog. A sharp satire on the celebrity culture, Coleman takes our obsession with the famous and takes it to a new level, granting celebrities the position of being ‘blessed’, replacing the religious Saints so many hold dear today. In a humorous twist, though, the status of sainthood is regularly taken away from the celebrities and given to the next rising star, a confirmation of how the ‘Cult of Celebrity’ is trespassing on the territory of our lives previously occupied by religion.

"The Cure" is a well written, touching, coming-of-age adventure that raises many issues for its reader’s to think about. His work has the conviction that is needed to truly affect his readers. He puts a new twist on an old story, while making it feel fresh and new, a task not easily accomplished. An entertaining and interesting read, successfully telling an old warning to a new generation.

© Chris Burden November 2007
cburden88@hotmail.com

*Now available in paperback

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