Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publisher: Text Publishing
Pub Date: July 30, 2018
Translated by: Penny Hueston
In a bleak future, humanity is plagued by illness that causes our bodies to prematurely fall apart. A woman reflects on her time in this world. Before her life in the forest, she was a psychoanalyst and specialized in treating trauma. Every two weeks she would go visit her "half," who she named Marie. The woman is fascinated by this comatose woman, an exact copy of her who exists solely as an organ farm, should she need anything.
As everything she thinks she knows is called into question, the woman flees to the forest to escape her own impending demise and the terror of the city. As she bands together with other fugitives and their halves, she's forced to the face the truth, that everything she's been told, might very well be a lie.
Note: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley
Written in a wonderfully conversational style, this reflective dystopian book examines what it means to be human, and shows a terrifying future in which those who are fortunate enough, are born with a half. A half is the ultimate life insurance policy, a clone from which you can get whatever transplants you need. Others in this world only have jars (a heart and lungs to transplant) and some have nothing at all.
This book is haunting in a number of ways, first off is the realistic way in which it shows a future where it is common to get sick, so common that we require ‘spare parts’, but it also offers insight into the nature of loneliness and what it means to be human. Especially what that means in a surveillance state.
The style in which this story is told is very limited, and yet extraordinarily effective. Viviane/Marie’s voice is captivating, and its almost as if she’s speaking directly to the reader. The entirety of the world is filtered through her point of view and it leads for a fantastic reveal. The layers of the world, while shown through the at times naive perspective of Viviane/Marie is reflective of how it’s possible to completely miss something so wrong. As far as unreliable narrator’s go, I think her voice is one that sticks in my mind as one of the strongest I’ve read in a long time.
While I didn’t see the twist at the end coming, upon reflection there were clear hints towards it, and I think I would enjoy rereading the book, if only to look for the breadcrumbs that the author left.
I highly recommend this book, it’s a short read that will undoubtedly leave you thinking for days.