Book Review: Archetype by M. D. Waters
Say you wake up in a hospital room with no memories. You’re told you’ve been in a terrible accident. There’s an incredibly handsome man sitting by your bedside, pledging his love and saying he’ll see you through your recovery. He’s your husband, after all. And he’s going to get you the very best of care, because he loves you with all his heart.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Well, that’s my take-away, in any case, after reading this scary, suspenseful, and altogther un-put-downable first novel by the very talented M. D. Waters. In this science fiction thriller, main character Emma wakes up in a high-tech hospital with no memories, surrounded by an elite medical team and with a very sexy man by her side, who only wants her to get better so they can continue their perfect lives together.
Problems? Well, there are the nightmares, for a start. Emma wakes in horrible trauma each night after dreaming of being trapped in a tank of water, unable to communicate, and watching a strange man who seems to be consumed by anger and grief. And that’s not all. On the nights without nightmares, there are other dreams: dreams of a beautiful beach, the arms of an unseen lover, and words of undying passion and commitment. And still more: dreams of battle, explosions, weapons, and danger. Are these delusions? Simple nightmares? Products of a damaged brain? Or is Emma starting to remember something — something that her husband wants to keep hidden?
Far be it from me to give anything away — but suffice it to say that all is not as it seems. Archetype takes place a couple of hundred years in the future, in a world quite similar to ours… but with much more pervasive technology, a United States that has divided into two separate countries following a civil war, a fertility crisis resulting in some very paternalistic laws around reproduction, and young women kept in restrictive Women’s Training Centers until age 18, when they are either bought and paid for by wealthy men who want families or assigned to a more menial role of support and subservience.
And yet, Emma’s husband Declan seems to really love her, and lavishes her with affection, patience, gifts, a lovely mountain home, and an art studio in which to pursue her newly awakened compulsion to paint landscapes. Declan is one hot guy, and just happens to be incredibly rich and powerful as well. Emma can’t help but be drawn to him, and there’s a connection between the two that just steams up the pages.
There’s more, lots more, but I absolutely want you all to experience Archetype for yourselves! I gobbled this book up within the space of 24 hours, because I just could not look away. And when I stopped for little things like eating or sleeping, I swear I kept turning over all the puzzles of the plot in my brain. There are so many clues, and so much to tease apart. What really happened to Emma? What do those dreams represent? Can Declan be trusted? Who is the mystery lover that Emma may or may not remember? There’s danger, there’s mystery, there’s passion, and there’s enough new and bizarre medical technology to make a sci-fi geek purr with contentment.
I loved the scientific and medical twists and turns, the strange new world of this alternate America, and of course, I loved Emma herself. She may be confused, but she’s not weak or a pushover, and it’s just thrilling to see her take control and try to outsmart everyone, stay ten steps ahead, and figure out how to survive — all without knowing whether anything she believes about herself or her life is actually true.
Normally, this is where you’d hear me complain about a book with a “to-be-continued” ending. Well, not this time. Yes, Archetype ends with a shocker of a cliffhanger, and yes, I’m dying to know more. But — thank you, thank you, thank you — the sequel, Prototype, will be out in July 2014! Now that’s some smart publishing! Anyone who reads Archetype will be practically salivating over the prospect of a speedy sequel.
Archetype is one crazy roller coaster ride of a thrill, and plenty smart too. Read this book! But be prepared to lose sleep until you get to the very end.
Author: M. D. Waters
Publication date: February 6, 2014
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Science fiction (adult)
Source: Review copy courtesy of Dutton