Resistance is set in a future dystopian Paris, now called Otpor. Citizens must conform to the state’s rules, and Orthodoxy – as the conformist attitude is referred to – must be maintained at all costs. Heterodoxy – any nonconformist behaviour – is a crime punishable by death.
Anaiya (Ani) 234 is a Fire Element, and her role as an elite Peacekeeper means that she helps to maintain order using whatever methods she considers appropriate, including the use of violent force where necessary.
It’s been two generations since the last case of Heterodoxy, but fears of a new rebellion have now been raised as murals calling for Resistance begin to spring up around the city’s walls.
Desperate to stamp out any signs of Heterodoxy, Ani is selected for an undercover mission to infiltrate the Resistance and to identify its leaders. But her mission comes at a high price, as she must sacrifice her identity and her beliefs in order to make her cover story feasible.
Resistance is a wonderfully complex debut novel, and sits firmly in the dystopian genre for me. Set in a city that seems to be a police state, Otpor’s people are aligned to an element – Earth, Air, Fire or Water. Their element decides the sort of job they will take on, who they will socialise with as well as many of their attitudes and beliefs. Whilst a caste system is not a new idea, I thought that it worked really well in the novel, and I thought that the various traits displayed by each element were well-matched to each designation. From the promiscuous Fire Elements to the more arty Air Elementals, I thought that this was cleverly done.
As someone who loves dystopian fiction, I couldn’t help but liken certain aspects of the novel to other works of this genre. The main two that sprung to mind were Brave New World and Zamyatin’s We, although I did also wonder if the bar Soylent was a tribute to the film Soylent Green (which was based upon Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room!). Whilst these, and possibly other works, may have had an influence on Kopievsky’s writing, Resistance is certainly an original piece of fiction, and I think that it will appeal to fans of these kinds of novels.
Whilst I enjoyed the story overall, I did have a couple of minor issues, however. I didn’t fully grasp the nature of the world, which seems like something of a police state, but it wasn’t clear who makes the rules that Otpor’s citizens must conform to. Similarly, there are hints that there are no family units – that parents and the raising of children by traditional methods are no longer utilised. I took this to mean that babies aren’t born but developed in a lab (a la Brave New World), but this was my interpretation of what I’ve read. Kopievsky has created such a fascinating world and I really wanted to understand it in full, but found that I still had a few questions about how it all worked by the end of the novel.
Additionally, Ani’s investigation once she is undercover does (at one point literally) have her stumbling across the right person. It’s just too convenient, and I found this to be a little disappointing. Not quite a deus ex machina perhaps, but I thought that it could have been easily avoided.
That said, Resistance is a very interesting story with some extremely interesting elements (no pun intended) to it, and it’s an intriguing and refreshingly original addition to the genre. The first of the Divided Elements series, I’m extremely curious about what comes next.
Resistance will be published on 20 January. Many thanks to the author, publisher (KYRIJA) and Netgalley for providing a copy for review.