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Lana Krumwiede’s debut novel, Freakling, is the first in a trilogy. Set in the futuristic city of Deliverance, young Taemon is forced to learn how to live without psi, and not be found out, in a world filled with it.
Krumwiede does little in the way of imagery to create her characters and their world. Aside from knowing that the city is surrounded by mountains, created by their great ancestor who was the original psi wielder, there are no physical descriptions. Not knowing what Taemon, his family, or their world looks like doesn’t take away from the story. Even if a bit disappointing, the story itself is enough to draw readers in.
The drama of the opening sentence grabs your attention and leaves you wondering what may be to come. Each chapter, started with a teaser in the Calendar Song, never lacks action either. Novels, and short stories, are based on the rise of conflict and resolution. Krumwiede utilizes this feature in the entire book, and each chapter.
Time after time Taemon is faced with a problem, be it creating a lock without psi or saving himself from some mishap. And each time, he manages to find to survive. In this sense, Taemon’s story could be considered a coming of age tale. Taemon must take the knowledge he possesses and look within himself in order to make the correct decisions; decisions that will affect everyone around him.
Deliverance is a city full of power, some of which is wielded by greedy priests seeking to fulfill only their desires. After Taemon is sent to the ‘dud farm’ and his brother is given the prestige of being the True Son, things begin to get worse. People go missing the city and there is talk of an impending war. It is left to Taemon, and his companion Amma, to stop the priests and Yens.
This dystopian young adult novel offers what most similar novels do. They serve as an introduction to social consciousness by presenting themes of social injustices created by hierarchies. Often in these circumstances the young characters must learn the importance and value of developing a strong moral compass.
Though instilling readers with these extremely useful lessons, one thing Krumwiede needs to be wary of is leading her readers. By expressly assuming her audience has the ability to identify and understand the themes of her work, the use of unnecessary metaphors or explanations insults their intelligence. And an insistence on the existence, or use, of psi—illustrated by it in action—ruins the suspension of disbelief thus making it harder to buy into this world filled with telekinesis to the extreme.
Despite the downfalls, Freakling is a great story of self discovery and heroics. Not only does Taemon respect himself, and the power he’s capable of, his story weaves together important ideas about family, politics, the power of the individual and the power of knowledge.