Published by Marotte Books on May 6, 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Issues
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Arthur is dying. He must transition within the next four weeks or face permanent memory loss. Alba is studying, preparing to impress the Mentors in an all-important interview. If she’s picked as the next Apprentice she will be reunited with her best friend and cross the Wilderness for the first time.They meet and everything comes together. And everything falls apart.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Do We Go on Forever?
2084. Uncontrollable bacterial infections have wiped out large portions of the population. Measures have been put in place to reduce the spread: no-go areas, social distancing, online learning, masks, gloves, vaccinations. But only the chosen are guaranteed survival, and even then it’s risky. If they do become infected, there is a way around it – transitioning: the transference of the mind into a host body. But who are these Hosts and is it ethical? What if you do not wish to transition? Sarah Govett’s latest novel We Go On Forever tackles these questions and more in a fast-paced novel that will leave you questioning everything around you.
Characters and Plot
We Go On Forever is told from the point of view of its two main characters Alba and Arthur. Alba is 17, and along with her friend Curly she is housed in an institutional facility. Trained for mental and physical excellence they know much about maths and science but little about themselves. Formally identified by those in charge via a numbering system, they lead a structured, almost puritanical life, under the commandments of The Creator. Break those commandments and the punishment is severe. The only hope for the young men and women kept in the compound is to be chosen by a ‘mentor’, someone who will come and take them to a better life.
When Curly is selected by a mentor, Alba is convinced she will be joining the scientists at ‘Research City’ looking into cleaning up after a nuclear fallout that has turned the surrounding area into what is referred to as ‘The Wilderness’. Curly’s departure devastates Alba, pushing her to question what is happening outside the compound. What Alba is unaware of is her true origin and purpose. Those housed at the compound are Hosts; genetically created from the sperm and eggs of wealthy, privileged Level One donors as vessels to be transitioned into when their own body has failed them. One of those privileged few is Arthur, son of the wealthy CEO who runs the company that oversees the process.
Arthur: 19, spoilt, but with serious issues. His body is failing due to a nasty brain tumour. It’s not his original body – this is number 3. Arthur is not keen on transitioning; his first change was without his knowledge and his second didn’t last long. He knows he is going to have to make the jump soon having been given weeks to live, but he wants it on his terms. Unfortunately, his overbearing father disagrees and is pushing him to make the change as soon as possible. Not only that, but he wants him involved with the family business, and will stop at nothing to manipulate Arthur to ensure this happens. After advice from his best friend Tommy, Arthur relents and begins the process of choosing a Host using the videos they upload. After viewing several, he comes across F3526 and there’s something about her that instantly attracts him – her eyes. She has “eyes that see” deep into Arthur’s being, and it’s in that moment that Arthur realises that he must meet her in person.
And so it is that the paths of Arthur and Alba cross, setting off a chain of events that could alter everything.
I’d never come across the writing of Sarah Govett before but I had heard good things about her Territory series and the India Smythe books, so I was expecting great things. I was not let down at all. We Go on Forever is a tightly woven tale of belief, honesty, and oppression that forces the reader to delve deeper into the world around them. Govett starts slow, concentrating on her characters rather than world-building. It’s at the halfway mark that she really picks up the pace, lifting the veil on what’s really been happening outside the compound. There are small hints that what Alba is aware of may not be the whole truth, but the subtlety makes you read on to get results. But make no mistake, those results are not easy to digest. The cruelty shown towards the Hosts, both physical and mental, can be hard to read at times. Gaslighting is evident throughout, towards both main characters, and this may make it difficult for some to read. Also, I’m not sure when Govett initially penned the novel, but the comparisons to COVID are there, and again it can make for uncomfortable reading.
Initially, I didn’t care for Arthur as a character. I’ve read several books recently where the male lead is the son of a demonstrative, distant and crooked CEO of a tech corporation and I didn’t feel he added anything to the trope. When Arthur finally sprung into action, he improved overall, becoming relatable and one I was able to empathise with. Alba, on the other hand, is a joy from start to finish. Strong-willed but full of self-doubt, Alba was realistic throughout, particularly when the penny drops and she realises the truth.
Minor characters do suffer up against Alba’s exceptional characterisation. Tommy, Arthur’s best friend feels a touch one-note, doing little other than pushing the plot, and the other inhabitants of the Compound are cartoonish in their representation. Often, the most evil of characters is the slightest – those shrew types you’d never expect. Unfortunately, the Supervisor (the bullying but subservient head of the compound) felt stereotypical in her representation which, for me, ultimately reduced her impact.
When the world-building really hits its stride, Govett goes in at full strength. The land around the Compound is as desolate and void of humanity as within the walls. City areas are no-goes unless you are one of the privileged Level Ones who have been vaccinated. If you do choose to go to any area that’s high occupancy then you’re a DMW – Dead Man Walking. Bacterial strains are now deadly with no hope of survival if you’re below a Level One. There are several moments that highlight this disparity among the population and they are all hard-hitting. There is a scene set in a nightclub in the final third of the book that will live with me for quite a while.
As a social commentary, We Go on Forever hits the target in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s not set too far in the future. With everything that happening currently in the world, the events of the novel occurring in sixty years is not that much of a stretch. Consider the corruption and cronyism in politics today and you can easily believe a concept such as Level Ones existing in the future. However, I would have liked a few more indications of how the rest of the World is affected rather than just London.
We Go On Forever is a clever, imaginative novel with a satisfying ending that epitomises the label ‘page-turner’. On the cover of the arc I received there’s a quote from actress, writer and director Dame Emma Thompson, singing Govett’s praises. I really do hope that she either picks this up to film or passes it on to someone else, as it will make an incredible film if done right.
Buy the Book
If you buy We Go On Forever direct from the publisher Marotte Books, you’ll get FREE P&P (UK) and they will ask the author to dedicate and sign the book as well! Click here to go direct to the book’s sale page.
Tour organised by Anne at Random Things Tours. Check her out on Twitter and Facebook as well as other dates on the tour.