Author: Theresa Linden
Publisher: Silver Fire Publishing
Age Range: 14 +
Once I’d started reading this book, I literally couldn’t put it down. Theresa Lindon has cleverly created a dystopian world that uncomfortably resembles our own world here and now. As I write this review, millions of Australians are in coronavirus lockdown with enforced curfews and soldiers wandering the city streets. I could really relate to the main character, Liberty, in this story!
Young readers who are making choices about their future lives will relate to Liberty’s feelings of uncertainty and restlessness. Life is about to change for Liberty, but it’s not changing in the way that she wants. The Regimen has decided for her what her future vocation will be – breeder. The trouble is – Liberty doesn’t want to be a breeder; she wants to be a mechanic. Out of her growing frustration and dread, Liberty stumbles across an old scrap book and pencils and begins to write. Just like in the novel 1984, when Winston scrawls a few lines in his forbidden diary, Liberty learns to work her hand muscles and writes down her thoughts.
The story is driven by Liberty’s discovery of an underground resistance and her subsequent escape from Aldonia. As readers, we are swept up into the excitement of Liberty’s escape from a world of surveillance cameras and governmental control. Excitement builds as they traverse through underground tunnels and secret exits, running from Unity Troopers and scrambling under electric fences. I loved the peace and tranquillity of the vast bushland that they finally trek through. Liberty undergoes a ‘baptism’ of sorts while immersing herself in a pond – “Trust. Surrender,” she tells herself.
The idyllic life of a group of families who are hidden away far, far from Aldonia is beautifully depicted by Theresa Linden. This is a story that explores what happens when governmental control extends to all aspects of life – the creation and end of life is controlled, relationships between people are controlled, morality and personal choices are controlled. But for some people there is an inner restlessness – a searching for something else. And Liberty finds something else – a society where people worship God, follow the commandments and grow up learning to love each other and care about each other.
Theresa Linden explores this further through her characters. More than once throughout the novel, it is suggested that the majority of people complacently accept the status quo in Aldonia because it is convenient to do so. Free will and choices bring with them hard work and responsibility. Many characters in this book would prefer the convenience of a Regimen that makes their choices for them. In exchange, their basic needs are met. For those who manage to escape, the days are filled with working, caring, planning and praying.
What I loved about this story is that the Regimen is made up of ordinary people who regularly slack off in their jobs. Many of the surveillance cameras don’t work; many ordinary people don’t really care that much about their work. People seek pleasure, take drugs and trade contraband. Doctor Supero made me laugh out loud – what a great character! He is in turn meticulous, soppy, vengeful and ridiculous. I can’t wait to see what happens to him. Because the good news is that this is the first novel in a trilogy.
Author, Theresa Linden
I highly recommend this dystopian novel for the teens in your life. It provides a way for teens to consider the big theological questions – do we instinctively ‘know’ there is a God? What is free will? How do we know right from wrong? When is it right to disobey the law? A warning that there is drug taking and scary parts in the story. The ending is sad, but really sets up the reader for the next book in the series.
You can purchase Chasing Liberty HERE
Homeschool and Teen Ideas.
As I’ve mentioned in the review, there is scope here for discussion and exploration of big theological themes. Why not start with the Catholic Catechism. Read through “Man’s Capacity to Know God” (Statements 29 – 49).
- Do you agree that we are “religious beings”? Explore different rituals, sacrifices, prayers, meditations of people throughout time and in different places. Are you convinced that people are “religious beings”?
- “The desire for God is written in the human heart” (Catholic Catechism statement 27). How does Theresa Linden make this point in the novel? Discuss how this statement is explored in Chasing Liberty.
- Read through Statements 1897 – 1948 on authority and the common good. Discuss and explore the notion that sometimes it is right to disobey authority if it is for the common good. How does Theresa Linden explore this theme in Chasing Liberty?
I would encourage interested readers to read Corinna Turner’s Catholic dystopian I Am Margaret series. The review is HERE.