I was especially excited for the release of The Disappeared. I have followed Amy’s writing for some years, reading her awesome blog over at Ten Penny Dreams, so I was thrilled when I realised that I could support her journey to publication by pledging something towards her debut release.
The Disappeared was published through Unbound: a team of writers, designers, publishers and producers working together to make publishing work for everybody. They have built an amazing community, unique platform and a publishing model that uses crowd funding to shift the balance of power to writers and communities that champion underserved ideas and voices. It was brilliant to be a supporter and I loved receiving updated from the Unbounders detailing where the book was up to in the process.
It was really special to read a book I had not only anticipated so highly but had actively contributed to. I highly recommend checking out Unbound and supporting some projects. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on The Disappeared.
This is a gripping dystopia which cuts close to the bone at times. Set in an imagined, near future UK, the sinister Authorisation Bureau, led by the First General, have imposed martial law in Britain for the protection of its citizens. But, in reality, that protection looks very much like oppression with people forced to leave their homes; families torn apart as anyone with ideas contrary to the government’s conveniently ‘disappears’; and strict restrictions placed on what can be taught in schools and universities so that whole generations grow up exposed only to the knowledge the government wants them to have.
The Authorisation Bureau is a disturbing presence throughout the narrative – you feel the threat of it there always, much as the characters do. The Major is a fascinating character and I found myself hoping and wondering if he would turn out to be a better man than initially portrayed, his brutal mode of operation a disguise to keep him safe and hidden in the ranks of the Bureau.
Clara, haunted by the disappearance of her father when she was eleven, lives with his passion for books as a guiding light inside her, resolving to use them as the only way she knows to fight back, in spite of the dangers. Her character is compelling with equally tangible fear and determination.
The freedom fighting organisation, Lumiere, is rather enigmatic. There are hints of its presence that pop up before it emerges fully into the storyline but I’d have liked to see more of it, as we don’t learn much beyond those hints. Nevertheless, I loved the incorporation of its logo into previous scenes and the characters from within the group are all well written: considering how little we see of them, there’s a clear sense of who they are.
All in all The Disappeared is a compelling read: brutal, moving and very, very human.