By: Lull Mengesha & Scott Spotson
They say everyone has a doppelganger, a twin, a clone. Somewhere out there, there is, another you who looks JUST LIKE YOU but is living an entirely different life from yours. The basis of Alia Tero is this: EARTH HAS A DOPPELGANGER! Somewhere in another universe, spinning around some other Sun, there is another Earth—one called Alia Tero. It looks like earth. There are people walking around on Alia Tero who have jobs, hobbies and smart phones—just like we do. They’re living in homes like ours; they play basketball and listen to music. They spend way too much time in front of TV’s, just like us. And yet, they’re living very different lives than we do.
On Alia Tero, life changes—for everyone on the planet—every four months. In one “rotation” a man might be the CEO of a Women’s Lingerie Company. Four months later he might be a Trigonometry teacher or Trash Collector. He might live in an apartment, a mansion, a hovel or on the street…but, only for four months. Rotations are designed to keep everyone on Alia Tero equal. Everyone wears the same type of clothing, the same watch, carries the same phone. No one is better off than anyone else; at least not for more than four months.
No one marries on Alia Tero. No one can stay in a relationship for more than a third of a year. No one, man or woman, can have more than three children. In fact, it is required that every woman have three children. However, none can raise their own child. Children, like the houses, the jobs, the clothing, are shuffled rotation after rotation; between guardian after guardian, home after home, until they come of age and begin their own series of rotations.
THIS is thought to be Utopian…but, is it really?
The story follows one main character, Darren Datita through a handful of his rotations.
Darren is a very “down-to-Earth” young man, despite not being on Earth. He is flawed, like every human being. But, he’s basically a good guy with a good heart.
At the core of the story are questions: Who is truly running things? There is no government to speak of; so, who runs the schedules? Who makes the rules? Who has the power…and the temerity to change things? Do they even need to be changed?
It’s a unique story-line. I enjoyed the premise very much. In fact, when the story ended (and NO I will not tell you how) and I closed my Kindle, I remember thinking, “Gosh, I’d like to know what happens next”. That, for me, is actually a sign of a good story. When I’m not ready for it to end; when I continue to think about the characters and wonder what might happen to them next…that means I liked it.
Darren is engaging, as are the people he meets and learns to like and love in each rotation—including his parents and half-siblings whom he meets as the story matures.
His “nemesis” is a truly rotten person whom you’ll love to hate. At least for a while. There comes a time, though, when you, the reader, realize that even he is just human.
I especially enjoyed reading about Darren’s rotation as a guardian—a “dad”—at the tender early age of 19. He makes some truly horrific mistakes. But, he learns from them. By the end of the four-month period of parenthood, he’s a better guardian and a better man.
NOW, for the real critique: While I did enjoy the read…it was a hard read.
This APPEARS to be the authors’ first attempt at fiction. There are parts of the story that are mesmerizing (see above concerning parenthood). However, these enthralling chapters are few and far between. For the most part, I found the story to be thin and un-imagined. So many scenes—most scenes—seemed rushed and unexplored. Others, were described and traversed with such heaviness and mundanity that I found myself staring off into space and drooling like one in a wakeful coma. And wouldn’t you know it? Those were chapters that dealt with the most boring and disgusting themes.
There was one chapter which semi/sort-of hinted that one of Darren’s rotation room-mates might be a ghost? Vampire? Skillful Ninja? I don’t know. The whole thing was left hanging, just dropped. Frustrating.
Let me be clear: The premise is distinctive. The main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting. The writing is passably good.
HOWEVER, there is enough good to make a reasonably decent read on a rainy day.