Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: This Perfect Day

Over the weekend I finished all the books I had set out to read in July, so this month instead of digging into my collected comics and magazines, I decided to hit the books I’ve borrowed from others.  A few months ago, a friend of mine from one of my book clubs lent me Ira Levin’s 1971 novel This Perfect Day.  Although I have a few Levin books on my “To Be Read” shelf at home, the only one I’ve read so far is his superb Rosemary’s Baby.
Drawing obvious comparison with both 1984 and Brave New World, This Perfect Day is the story of Li RM35M4419 (nicknamed, “Chip”) and his journey through his terrifying society.  In Chip’s world, Unicomp is a worldwide computer system which manages the everyday lives of its citizens.  Each citizen is given a bracelet at birth and they scan their bracelet each time they enter or leave a room, ask for food, and receive their monthly treatments – which gets rid of all sorts of disagreeable issues like aggression, free will, and generally being disagreeable.
In this world everyone looks the same – the monthly treatments all citizens receive ensure men don’t grow facial hair and no one develops very much during puberty.  The main character, Chip, is a bit of a throwback as he has two different coloured eyes, which makes him stand out, but he is quickly forgiven regarding his appearance because Unicomp wants all of its citizens to be forgiving.  Obviously Chip has an interesting future ahead of him, although in Unicomp’s world, all choices are simply assigned to him (job, marriage, whether or not he will have kids, etc.).
It’s kind of funny, this book came out in 71, and excusing the few graphic sex scenes, it really felt like a modern day young adult fiction novel (I’m thinking of Uglies, Matched, Divergent, etc.), in fact, so much so that many of the plot points virtually telegraphed themselves to me as I went along, which I’m quite sure wasn’t’ the case when the book first came out, but as we are getting more and more used to dystopian stories in our teen fiction these days, it seems pretty straight forward to the modern reader.
The book was a lot of fun, a quick read (and even though I liked Rosemary’s Baby better), definitely recommended reading.

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