by M.D. Waters
Read: February 5 - 6, 2014
Published: February 6, 2014 by Dutton Adult
Category: Dystopian, woman's issues, adult
Series: Archetype # 1 (Duet series)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.
Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.
In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .
The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.
I only discovered Archetype because I ran across the author's signing at ALA thanks to Cupcake Jen. I'm so glad I did, because this book and its follow-up Prototype is an extremely readable and addicting series. I had to know what was going on NOW, and couldn't stop reading until I unraveled everything. This is the type of story where you start knowing something very small and it takes time to unravel the full picture. Of course that makes this book very hard to talk about in advance, but I've done my best to give a flavor of it without spoilers.
Archetype also has a love triangle, and shockingly I read it just after another love triangle series that broke me. BUT I liked how this one was set up and handled. It was not about an indecisive girl who can't choose between two hot pining guys (though there are 2 hot guys in this book). The set up is quite intriguing:
Emma Burke wakes up in a hospital not knowing who she is. She has to be told her name and learn simple terms, including what the word husband means when she's introduced to him. Her husband, Declan Burke, tells Emma about their life together, none of which she remembers. But he is kind and patient, and she adores how much he loves her. Slowly, they begin to rebuild their life together.
After an accident that nearly took Emma's life, she's finally on the road to health and the life she wants with the man she's falling in love with (again?). Except Emma keeps having vivid dreams of a completely different life and man. Is she remembering someone else's life? Is it her own? When someone from her dream life appears in her current world, Emma begins to question everything she knows and has been told.
A few specific things about this book:
1) Emma lives in a future world. This book could be labeled somewhere between dystopian and science fiction, but one that is also dangerously realistic. Emma lives in a future version of our world that could be possible if certain elements came to pass. Some things this story deals with are reproductive issues, women's rights and genetics, which all play a serious role in the way this society has been constructed. But there are also fun sci-fi elements like teleporting and cool holograph rooms that help create the flavor of this world.
2) Although dystopian, this is the story of one girl. Archetype is not about a revolution plot to change the society, which it seems characterizes 99% of YA dystopian fiction. Although some larger issues are tackled, Emma's story is the main focus. We follow her personal journey through both books, and I felt so much for her. The information she uncovers and issues she deals with as a result are intense and quite complicated. This is an adult book, and Emma's choices and desires are not always the same as a teen's would be. However, they were themes that I could relate to well.
3) Love triangle. For those of you who dislike these as much as me, I will say that the love triangle is not created just to add tension, but is wrapped up in the mystery of who Emma is and what her dreams really are. It doesn't involve back and forth. It's more of an emotional pulling inside of Emma, and once she makes a decision, she sticks to it. I also thought the direction of the romance was clear, and it resolves itself after book one. When taken over the entire series, it turns into a pretty epic love story.
4) The romantic interests: I really enjoyed figuring out these two characters. Nothing is simple about either of them, and Emma has to decide how what she knows and perceives about them intersects and diverges from the reality. I like when the direction of the romance is clear from the beginning, but I wish we'd been allowed a bit more sympathy for one of the guys. I think it would have made the psychological aspects of the overall story even more complex. Still, the romance and Emma's personal story is intense and knotted, and I enjoyed the entire experience. I also think the way the book ended felt right.
5) Surprising. I thought I knew where this was headed, and though I guessed some things, I was very surprised about others. I enjoyed discovering the story and world along the way. But it does take a fair bit of time to unravel everything, which is one reason why I couldn't put this down. What we find out in the latter part of the book made me think a lot. I just can't even imagine some of the things going on in this world and the way it personally affects the characters.
Love Triangle Factor: High - internally/Mild - actively. I know High is a scary word, but it's direction was never a mystery to me, and it was resolved by the end of the book. It's more of a struggle in Emma's mind and heart, and doesn't involve cheating. Because of that, it wasn't emotionally stressful for me.
Cliffhanger Scale: Low- Medium. Book written as a set. This part of the story is done, but the story flows together in one overall arc.
Book two in this duet is called Prototype, and it releases July 14, 2014. Thankfully there is less than a year between the two releases. You will want to predorder this as soon as you finish Archetype.