Charley has resented the System ever since his Down Syndrome brother was taken away. Anyone with a score lower than 100 is removed by the regime that rules Meritropolis and thrown outside the city walls. No one survives outside the walls. The predatorial creatures that have developed after “the Event” are too powerful and hungry. Unfortunately the only way to ensure that the city’s population does not go hungry is to limit its size. With his exceptionally high score for intelligence and strength, Charley is confident that he can infiltrate the government and avenge his brother’s death. Charley soon learns, however, that he is not the only person trying to beat the System, and that the other subversives have their own agenda.
A fairly typical dystopian novel, Meritropolis presents a desperate society willing to sacrifice its soul to survive. Government mandated euthanasia and forced abortion keep its citizens in constant fear. To avoid retribution, otherwise honorable people remain silent in the face of injustice until Charley and his friends take matters into their own hands. While the author’s message of justice and freedom is admirable, this book lacks writing style and creativity. Unbelievable, even for a fantasy, Ohman’s imaginary creatures seem absurd and the fighting prowess of Charley, et al. sounds like a caricature of a Jackie Chan movie. Despite Charley’s indignance at the violence of Meritropolis’ rulers, he himself uses his anger and physical strength to justify killing. It is not until the last two pages of the story that Charley begins to question his methods. The book’s conclusion implies that he may be capable of a change of heart, but still seeks revenge. All in all, a quick read that lacks depth in spite of the author’s philosophical motives.
Jennifer Minicus is a full-time wife and mother currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.