R/evolution by Tenea D. Johnson. ★★★
R/evolution is a novella that takes different short sections on different characters to present a dystopic view of the future, where America has been subsumed by race and class problems and genetic engineering is the norm.
Dystopians often take a current problem within our society and push it to an extreme. For instance, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale does this with gender issues and patriarchy. R/evolution takes America’s current race issues combined with the possibility of genetically engineered children, “designer babies.”
While I don’t think the society Johnson presents will come to pass, it did draw some eerie parallels with current events. From the shooting at a black church in Charleston to the rise of white nationalism, R/evolution is most certainly still relevant.
R/evolution was really short. Going into it, I didn’t know it was a novella and not a full length novel. I ended up reading all of it in under two hours. However, I think it actually ended too soon. If there’s a connecting thread to the mosaic like sections it presents, it’s the Carter children. A scientist by the name of Carter is creating a genetic reparation for the African American community, designing children with unprecedented health and abilities. But I feel like I never got more than a fragmentary picture of these Carter children. I would have liked to see a lot more.
Although I didn’t enjoy R/evolution as much as Johnson’s full length novel, Smoketown, I want to continue seeking out her work. I would still recommend R/evolution, particularly to those looking for the serious sort of dystopia.