Archetype (Archetype #1) by M.D. Waters
Pub. Date: February 6, 2014
Source: finished copy via publisher (thank you, Dutton!)
Summary: In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men – one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which…
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Emma wakes with no memories: she has no idea where she is, what happened to her, or even who she is. She soon learns there was an accident but she’s making incredible progress and will be back on her feet in no time. Although Dr. Travista runs his daily tests and her husband is patient and doting, Emma can’t help but feel that something isn’t right. Her recurring nightmares – and, at times, waking flashbacks – feature another man, a man she knows she fiercely loved, and there’s a little voice in her head that guides her in what she should (and shouldn’t) say. She wants to believe Declan when he tells her stories of how they met, but why can’t she remember their wedding and why would their honeymoon take place overseas when she’s deathly afraid of flying?
There’s always an exception to the rule and Achetype is it. I’ve been burned by dystopian novels so many times in the past that I nearly passed on this one, but something made me go for it and I’m so glad I did! Despite my enjoyment, it’s incredibly hard coming up with the right words to describe it. In the beginning, Emma is extremely vulnerable – she readily accepts whatever someone tells her (she has no reason to believe otherwise). Over time, however, she notices small cracks in the seemingly perfect life she has with Declan and starts questioning her surroundings.
I will say that were it not for a few futuristic pieces of technology (transporters, lasers that heal cuts, etc) and a throwaway line about a war and America splitting in two, Achetype could be mistaken for a contemporary novel – probably the reason I enjoyed it so much? As Emma digs deeper into her life before the accident, we learn about a resistance but even that felt a little vague. I think the reasoning for this dealt with Emma’s confusion and memory loss. Once she regains her memory, her past comes more into play and it seems the resistance will serve a larger role in the second book. As it stands, Archetype focuses more on the romance and, for once, I didn’t have a problem with the love triangle. It’s clear from the beginning who the ‘winner’ will be.
While I definitely enjoyed this novel and tore through it, my recommendation comes with reservations. This new society is very misogynistic. There’s a shortage of females and only those who are able to bear children are married – usually after they are bought by the highest bidder. Girls are sent to WTCs – Women’s Training Centers – where they are basically taught to become dutiful wives. Women who are not married or who are unable to have children end up doing menial work no one else wants. The women who are married off are branded so that, if she were to go out in public, men would know she’s another man’s property. This entire mindset would not sit well with many readers and I completely understand that!
As someone who does not enjoy dystopia, I was shocked to find myself so drawn to this novel! It’s an incredibly quick read and kept me thoroughly entertained. The offhand remarks about a war made for some shoddy backstory and the way women were treated as items to be bought and sold made me uncomfortable, but there was something about Archetype I couldn’t ignore. This duology won’t be for everyone, but I’m certainly looking forward to Prototype!