Crime Is Over.
The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman is partly science fiction, partly dystopian, and partly crime thriller.
A community known as The Children of Christ is shocked when a series of sexual attacks and murders are uncovered in the heart of the town. The Children of Christ is home to seemingly pure, religious folk as well as surgically reformed criminals – Subjugates – who are repurposed as servants, known as Serenes. They have been surgically altered to have their sinful tendencies and violent behaviours removed. The question is: who then, is responsible for these attacks? Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitchel Grenville work to find and stop the serial killer before another victim is claimed.
I really enjoyed reading The Subjugate. The settings and descriptions were completely immersive – the world created is both futuristic and realistic, drawing on motifs used in other dystopian and science fiction novels as well as describing things I could see happening.
The futuristic technology is well-explained; explanations weren’t overly lengthy or complicated so everything was easy to understand. I liked the irony that the characters’ dependency on technology wasn’t too far-fetched at all from today’s society. This grounded the novel in some realism, so that some of the more advanced technology didn’t seem too unimaginable. Mobile phones and watches with an increasing range of capabilities? Cars that can drive themselves? Check and check.
Whilst I enjoyed the representation of technology, I wonder whether the representation of religion – that is, Christianity, was slightly too harsh. For example, some characters were described in a negative way, simply because the protagonists learn they hold Christian beliefs. Now, I don’t mind dystopian or warped religious beliefs, such as those featured in The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World. These representations can provide interesting commentaries as well as entertainment. I just felt that the community in The Subjugate was judged immediately and negatively by the protagonists just because it was a religious town, which didn’t seem quite fair.
Nevertheless, I found the book interesting in a few different ways. For example, the fact that the government is focused on rehabilitating and releasing even the most violent criminals into the world again, through the sinister use of lobotomies and experiments to modify behaviour and character traits was a fascinating, though horrifying, prospect.
Control over the human body and the mind is such a huge motif in science fiction or dystopian novels. In A Clockwork Orange, doctors want to control and prevent Alex’s criminal tendencies by therapy akin to torture. In Brave New World, the government want to control and condition people to submit to the life to which they have been genetically assigned. In 1984, Big Brother wants control over what people say or think or do. In The Handmaid’s Tale, women lose control of their relationships, bodies, and potential children. The desire for omnipotent control over the human race is eerily present across all these novels, including The Subjugate.
Amanda Bridgeman’s effective use of this motif is not only entertaining, but prompts some interesting questions:
- Would it be better to strip people of their free will, forcing them to be good?
- Would it be better to allow people their free will, giving them the right to choose to be bad?
If you want to answer these questions, you’ll have have to read the book for yourself!
The Subjugate was an enjoyable read that blends a number of different genres really well; it’s perfect for fans of science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, or crime thrillers.
It had some fun plot twists, and I found myself engrossed in finding out what happened next – I read the entire thing in just a few days! The ending tied things up well, and I liked that the culprit wasn’t immediately obvious as there were a few different suspects.
I wouldn’t mind at all if Amanda Bridgeman chose to write a sequel to The Subjugate – either with the same characters or different ones – set in the same world, because I’m certainly interested in learning more about the futuristic world she’s created!
The Subjugate will be available to buy as an e-book or paperback from the 1st of November in the UK, and the 6th of November in the US and Canada. Many thanks to Angry Robot Publishing for providing me with a free copy!
Star Rating: 4/5 Stars