The Separation
by Thomas Duffy

"Separation laws…have made society recover some sort of order to what was once a chaotic nation."

In his book, Duffy extrapolates on current trends of teenage criminality and pregnancies and creates a futuristic society designed to end these out-of-control problems. The means involves separating males and females at birth into gender-specific communities. But a male character named Finn begins to question these methods at his own peril.

As with George Orwell and Margaret Atwood, Duffy creates a plausible regime. The most chilling feature for 21st-century readers lies in how quickly Duffy’s regime is able to take power by hacking into and emptying out the citizenry’s ATM accounts. In this, he validates the maxim often voiced by conservatives: that when economic freedom disappears so do the other freedoms.

Duffy is at his best when he shows how the government’s advertised turn toward an enlightened and progressive future is anything but. Instead, the regime harks back to the sexism of 19th and early 20th century America; men are taught economic expertise, while women are instructed in how to make a happy home for these “breadwinners.”

Duffy is equally good in creating in Finn a plausible and appealing rebel. Rather than have Finn rebel from the get-go, he realistically has this character’s opposition to the regime (begun when he becomes aware of the segregated females) occur slowly in an understandably cautious manner—a testament to the regime’s ability to brainwash its subjects as well as its ability to repress them. The author is also not afraid to come across as politically incorrect by showing how males and females need each other and how their exposure to each other “completes” them. All in all, Duffy has created an effective and chilling dystopian novel.

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