BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5
BOOK REVIEW: An ominous premonition. In The Olive Readers, Christine Aziz hits the fast forward button and places the reader in a dystopian future world where corporations rule the Earth. This story of a world gone wrong is told through the eyes and plight of a young woman named Jephzat. Jephzat lives in the federation state responsible for producing olives in the new world order. The corporations control all information. The possession of books is forbidden. Aziz’s heroine is a strong-willed character that appeals to readers. She is intelligent and mature for her age, displaying unflinching loyalty to her family and friends and an endearing independent spirit in spite of the corporate suppression. Throughout the story the audience is introduced to an eclectic cast of characters – some evoking admiration, others representing the darker side of humanity.
The Olive Readers is grand in ambition and for the most part, in execution. Aziz really gets into the minds of readers through direct tie-backs and references to the current state of our world. She refers to current international disputes over natural resources and the problem of climate change and presents the future dystopian world as the result of our mismanagement of those issues. The writing conveys a distinct sense of foreboding and serves as a warning of what might be. Another more uplifting message conveyed by Aziz is the value and power of information and that in today’s society we often take access to information and freedom of speech for granted. We are also reminded of both the fragility and strength of the human spirit and that love can be found in the most dire situations. Aziz reminds us that change starts with a single person.
Christine Aziz’s manuscript for The Olive Readers was selected from more than 46,000 entries to win ‘Richard and Judy’s’ How to Get Published competition and was published in 2006. Aziz apparently wrote the first half of this story over 18 years and the latter half in just two months. This in itself represents its only failing for me – the climatic ending seemed a little rushed, causing the grandeur created in the first half of the novel to be somewhat lost when it counted most.