What I like and what I don’t like about my own book! On this page I dare to self-review Epiworld!*
Epiworld is a novel aimed for young adult readers age 12 and over, a futuristic, science fiction time-travelling tale about Travis, a lad of about 15 (he isn’t quite sure of his exact age) who lives in 2099 Britain where all diseases have been wiped out through genetic cleansing. The population is controlled by a robotic police state, and everyone’s behaviour is monitored by a probe injected into the neck, although there are some, like Travis, who have somehow managed to slip through the probing net. He has no family, and roams freely and steals to survive with his gang, The Rockets, none of whom have been subjected to compulsory probing yet.
Anyone found to have an outlawed physical or mental condition is incarcerated into what is known as an Institution (the concept of which is based on the old Victorian asylums where people were shut away if they had mental or physical illnesses their families were ashamed of), so when Travis and his gang take on a rival gang and he suffers a seizure following a blow to the head, the doctor at the local hospital – hospitals are available only for research or for injuries – reports him to the health inspectors. Travis has frequent seizures, is diagnosed with epilepsy – a condition considered to be incurable – and put into a local Institution run by the sadistic Professor Chase and staffed by android nuns. Travis discovers he has been probed, and anyone who tries to escape from the Institution is killed by the robot police. He has to have frequent therapy sessions with Dr Alexander, whom he befriends, and who discovers a fantastic secret about Travis’ seizures that can help set him free: he can travel through time. Dr Alexander uses an old-fashioned piece of psychiatric equipment that frees Travis from the Institution and sends him on a journey through time, leading him to the remote Scottish island of Barrasay where he meets Demi, a young girl who becomes his travel companion, but who, as Travis continues his path in time, gets older while Travis stays the same age. Their paths are locked together in the same quest for Travis’s destiny, and at the end of the book Travis discovers something about Demi which shocks him to the core.
During his adventures Travis discovers he is being pursued by Professor Chase, posing as Demi’s boyfriend Chas. Travis finds out Chase can follow him time through ‘portals’ generated by his seizures and wants him dead. Dr Alexander – known as Alex in Travis’s new world – appears through the portals, too, and tries to help Travis and Demi escape Chas’s clutches. Travis doesn’t know why Chase wants him dead, but soon realises he must kill his pursuer before he gets the chance to kill Travis.
Epiworld was a book inspired by my own experience with epilepsy. I was diagnosed in 2000, and although my condition isn’t as serious as I know some people’s are, I’ve suffered with the odd tonic clonic or grand mal episode in those fourteen years where I’ve blacked out and lost time. Epilepsy is caused by electrical discharge in the brain, so I exploited the possible power of the electrical side and made it part of the plot. Where could I have gone when I lost that time? Could I have been transported to another world? A few seconds of time only had to be enough to send Travis on his journey. As a librarian I catalogued Census documents from the 1800s where I discovered epileptics were considered ‘mad’ and thrown into the Victorian asylums, hence my inspiration for the Institutions of Travis’s world.
What I Like
I like the names of my characters. I did some research into their meanings to reflect their actions and purpose:
Travis – ”traverser’ meaning ‘to cross’ (for this context, from one time to another)
Demi – Earth mother (some sources)
Chase – Huntsman (the chaser)
Alexander – Defender, warrior, saviour
Although I found it very hard to write that way, I like that I’ve written it in the first person present tense. In the book time is moving on, but from his perspective Travis is telling the story in real time and I think it draws the reader into the action, although this can cause problems when trying to see things from another character’s perspective.
What I Don’t Like
There isn’t much about this book that I personally don’t like, apart from the name of the rival gang. I called them The Prey, which is the target of a predator, but then I thought the name could be looked at in a different context as in ‘to prey’, so I decided to keep it. Some sources give the word a third definition: ‘the act or practice of preying’
My book cover designer (my husband!) doesn’t like the cover! He says it’s too dark and he should have chosen a better colour than green! Well, too late now. 🙂
I found Epiworld quite a tricky book to write, and because I found it hard to keep to the present tense it took nearly two years, but it helped that I chose a topic I have some personal knowledge of to base the story around. I would consider using epilepsy again as a theme in a future book.
* This review is for this site only
April 19, 2014