Published by Allen & Unwin on August 1, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, Science Fiction
Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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I wake up, and for a few precious seconds I don't realise there's anything wrong.
The rumble of tyres on bitumen, and the hiss of air conditioning. The murmur of voices. The smell of air freshener. The cool vibration of glass against my forehead.
A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There's a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom - she's fighting for her life.
Do you choose to save the person with a baby, or a child? Or the person with the red shirt, or the blue shirt? What about if they’re older, or younger, with only their physical attributes to tell them apart?
The Erasure Initiative is a sci-fi psychological thriller that had me at the edge of my seat, as it tells a story of how seven strangers on a bus choose to undergo a series of experiments. They have to choose whether to divert the base to save one group on the track, at the expense of another. Their memories have been wiped, and they don’t know who they are or why they are there. The only clues they have are their appearance and the people around them.
Our main character is Cecily, a white teenager of apparently high social standing based on her language and the way she holds herself. As she observes each of the other people on the bus, it was interesting seeing how she formed seemingly new opinions about each of them – and figuring out how they are all tied together. While undergoing these trials, we’re given clues about Cecily’s predicament, in the form of her hazy memories, and what the passengers remember about each other. There’s also Nia, a black girl with a prosthetic leg who is also skilled at hacking, the handsome teen who she is physically attracted to, and some other people of varying age and social status.
I was impressed with how fast paced and action packed the story was, while offering insights into who Cecily was as a person through her actions, as opposed to her memories and internal thoughts that would normally be part of characterisation (without the memory loss).
It was also great to have bisexual representation in the book – and also realising your sexuality without any social cues or hints to your past. It manifested in physical attraction and chemistry which was fascinating to see develop over time as well.
From putting together the pieces about who you are and whether you are a good person, to what your appearance and mannerisms say about you, there was a lot that The Erasure Initiative unpacked. It had me thinking a lot about morality and how, when placed in impossible circumstances, you would choose to make your decisions. Would it be based on personal judgement, your own prejudices, or even your own preferences? Would you choose differently if there was personal gain involved with the choices?
If you want to find out about what happens to Cecily and why they’re on the bus – you’ll have to pick up the book! I absolutely loved it and found The Erasure Initiative to be an absolute thrill ride that will have you questioning your own morality. It raises questions about rehabilitation versus consequences and the prejudices that we can hold that can affect our judgement. I loved reading this book and devoured it really quickly!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a review copy!
The Erasure Initiative is out now in Australian bookstores for $19.99.
Aus Giveaway – Win a copy of The Erasure Initiative
Thanks to Allen & Unwin, I am giving away a copy of The Erasure Initiative to a lucky reader of Happy Indulgence. For an additional chance to win, head over to my Instagram.
All you have to do is to enter below (must have an Australian address, be over 18+ or have parental permission to enter). Giveaway winner will be contacted by email, we aren’t responsible for lost or stolen packages.
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