By Cynthia Ayala
Years after the Earth’s population was decimated by a virus, the survivors sought refuge, building a city based on three tiers, the goal of the citizens to focus solely on duty, to forget their emotions and strive for excellence. Seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is one of the people built in the city at the edge of war with Affinity, her one chance at freedom and redemption. But for the fight for freedom, there always comes risk.
A tension driven novel that follows one Avlyn Lark as she faces the reality of her world and the hope that there is an alternative to Direction, the government body that restricts the use of emotions, subjugating everything to living out contracts and doing their jobs.
As a novel, Configured is more complex than it lets on, and that’s a good thing because it works to create depth. That doesn’t just go for the story but more the characters as well. Avlyn is a strong character because she has this inner turmoil, she has the conflict that can sway her either way and it works so well, because it makes her an interesting character to read. There is a lot of self-discovery for this character, not just for what she ca do but in the way she views herself. She grows, develops, and is easy for the audience to connect to. Penner did a wonderful job creating a 3-dimensional character.
As for the other characters, Penner allows the reader to get to know them but it is harder to seem them and connect to them because most of that attention is directed towards Avlyn. Luckily it doesn’t disrupt the story but there could have been a stronger definition of these characters to make them more believable. This goes hand in hand with the character dynamics. Again, the lack roundedness for the secondary characters doesn’t affect this at all but that is mostly due to the protagonists’ narrative. That narrative is what holds the story together and keeps it strong. It allows the reader to be drawn into the story, able to follow the complexities that go into being human. That is probably what this novel challenges the most, the meaning of identity and how it fits into the world, how having identity shapes the world.
This is a thought provoking novel that has so much going for it. There are complex issues within the realm of the text that makes for a strong read. It’s also very enjoyable because the pace allows for the reading to flow perfectly. It rises and falls so precisely that it allows the reader to be both engrossed in the text and also take in everything that is happening with strong thought. Over all, a wonderful read from Penner. (★★★★☆ | A)