Review: Darwin, Singer by Nadria TuckerSunday, June 03, 2012
by Nadria Tucker
Genre: young adult, dystopian
Publication date: March 28 2012
Pages: 196 (ebook)
Source: e-copy provided by author
Format: paperback and ebook
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SYNOPSIS: Darwin is a singer, and music is illegal. Real music, anyway.
The Wagner Initiative bans the practice of all non-educational forms of art. Darwin has worked for these jerks her whole life, singing about crosswalk safety and body odor, living with the WI's strict code of morality (no art for art's sake, no flashy clothes, and no massive rainbow-colored sock collections like the one hidden in Darwin's closet). When she finds out the WI may have had a hand in her father's death, Darwin starts asking questions. She explores the Private Library's dusty basement archives. She discovers rock and roll. She meets Brax, a handsome (if you like the rebellious type) double agent whose recurring disappearances give no clue whether his loyalty lies with the state or the resistance. Brax gives Darwin a media drive filled with illegal music. No bigger than a stick of gum, it's the most dangerous thing Darwin's ever touched. And once she presses play, she refuses to stop listening.
In this young adult dystopian novel, author Nadria Tucker tells the story of Darwin, who moves through the underground; a network of basements, artists, and rebels prepared to fight‑violently if necessary‑for the freedom to sing, dance, write, juggle, or do whatever else lies in their hearts.
This was a very unassuming yet beautifully written book. I have to admit that I almost gave up on it and that I almost marked it as 'did not finish' because it started so painfully slow. I gave it a chance and continued reading though, and I am so glad that I did. The slowness of the pace was easily forgiven, because as I continued reading, the pace built up slowly yet surely and continued on to turn into something so brilliant, I can't even explain it with words.
Darwin's world was so vivid and was written with care. The streets of DC and New York came to life in front of my eyes, from the fancy high tech buildings to the underground societies. The author also did a superior job of weaving a story line with so many intriguing characters. She does an excellent job humanizing them and lacing them with depth. The heroine, Darwin, is now one of my favorite fictional characters. She's an intelligent and civilized rebel who doesn't whine and complain. She doesn't let her emotions get the best of her. She's completely harmless though, and not remarkable in any way. But she knows what she needs to do, and she will stop at nothing to do them. I guess that is what makes her special.
The storyline and plot blew my mind. It's not your average dystopian novel where everything seems close to impossible. There's no trace of something paranormal like a zombie infestation or a vampire take-over. Darwin's dystopian world is very very real, and it could really happen to us. The fact that a future like Darwin's is slowly forming around us terrified me to the core. It's not just Darwin's story- it could be our story, yours and mine. (Ever heard of how people rally at Lady Gaga and Screamo concerts because they think it's 'vulgar'? yeap.)
I love that the author did not try to sugarcoat our society's problems. She wrote about politics, corruption, and greed. She took all the facts and threw them at my face, screaming for me to listen. Darwin and I went through a journey. We found out that everything in this world is in the hands of people pulling the strings. Except, the people pulling the strings are puppets too. There's no bad guy, no man in a bowler hat smoking cigar. Everyone's the big bad wolf. But guess what? Everyone can be the woodsman, too. Everyone can save little Red.
Nadria Tucker's novel is hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful, with a sense of reality, and writing that's just perfection. It has the right nuts and bolts to compete with every other young adult book in the market, it just needs a little greasing. So what if it's not from the big leagues? It can easily compete in the olympics of books. Take note of Darwin's rule #56: the message is more important than the messenger.
THE NUB AND GIST: 5 SUPER SHINY STARS!
About the Author
Nadria Tucker was born in Atmore, Ala., and grew up living the small-town Southern life, which had a great influence on her work. She received an English degree from Auburn University before getting her master's in creative writing at UAB. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines including Fiction 365, New Southerner, THE2NDHAND and Luna Station Quarterly. She's published a collection of short stories entitled The Heaviest Corner on Earth. Darwin, Singer is her first novel. Find her online at nadriatucker.com. Find out more about her novel Darwin, Singer at http://nadriatucker.com/darwinsinger/