I haven't been around much lately… [no kidding!] -- but I have been reading some real great books.
One of them was When She Woke, by Hillary Jordan.
It's so great when you pick up on a new author and are not at all disappointed. In this novel set in the not-too-distant future, the world takes new measures in the identification of "criminals". I put that word in quotation marks, because the definition of "criminal" has changed also. In a nutshell -- imagine a society run by the Tea Party on steroids! People convicted of criminal offences undergo skin pigmentation, and red stands for murder. Hannah Payne, our heroine, has aborted her fetus, and is thereby convicted of murder.
After her trial, she wakes up... red.
If this puts you in mind of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the coincidence is intended. This is really a modern re-telling of that timeless story. Right down to the alliteration of the nomenclature.
Hannah Payne = Hester Prynne.
And the male reason for Hannah's pregnancy is none other than the leading evangelical preacher of the day, Aidan Dale, mega-popular pastor of a mega-church.
Aidan Dale = Arthur Dimmesdale.
I trust that my readers get all these connections. I know that you do.
In Jordan's book, Hannah is driven out into a vigilante environment where there is no safe haven.
Can you imagine being on the run for your life, even from certain members of your own family who have rejected you, and all because you did the only thing you could do to save the career [and marriage] of the person you love the most? Aidan Dale is married. Hannah is a fugitive.
The book is a real pager turner, and I have not one negative thing to say about it.
I was riveted.
And the amazing thing is that the most "evil" characters in When She Woke are those who retain whatever skin colour they were born with. This is an important, gorgeously written, fast-paced novel that profoundly illustrates the dangers inherent in a world where religion-based morality has run amok.
I think Nathaniel Hawthorne himself would give it five stars. And who am I to argue with him?