Krista Reviews: Jonathan Friesen's - "Aquifer"

Friesen_AquiferOnly he can bring what they need to survive.

In the year 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. Sixteen-year-old Luca has struggled with this truth, and what it means, his entire life. As the son of the Deliverer, he will one day have to descend to the underground Aquifer each year and negotiate with the reportedly ratlike miners who harvest the world’s fresh water. But he has learned the true control rests with the Council aboveground, a group that has people following without hesitation, and which has forbidden all emotion in the name of keeping the peace. This Council has broken his father’s spirit, while also forcing Luca to hide every feeling that rules his heart.

But when Luca’s father goes missing, everything shifts. Luca is forced underground, and discovers secrets and mysteries that cause him to questions who he is and the world he serves. Together with his friends and a very alluring girl, Luca seeks to free his people and the Rats from the Council’s control. But Luca’s mission is not without struggle and loss, as his desire to uncover the truth could have greater consequences than he ever imagined.

The Aquifer is deep below the ground and controlled by the Rats: people who, years ago, decided to leave and maintain the drinkable water for those above. Without water, everybody will die. A yearly contract is maintained between the Rats and those above by the Deliverer. He is the only one who knows how to find those below and only the apprentice, usually a descendant of the deliverer, has the information handed down to them.

We are introduced to the story just as the Deliverer, Luca’s father, is about to make his yearly trek. But times are hard and the rulers are becoming greedy and ruthless in their pursuit of power. When Luca’s father goes missing, it is Luca who must make the dangerous trip by himself if he wants to save everyone.

Aquifer is set in a futuristic Australia: a world in which emotions have been abolished and the fewer ‘wrinkles’ you cause the council, the better off you’ll be. As Luca’s life suddenly changes, his emotions are running high and becoming harder to maintain. He has to grow up fast, and that means learning new things—secret things. Suddenly no one is who they seem to be.

The story is a non-stop adventure that takes us through the school system, the history museum, and the aquifer itself. For me, the saddest part of the story was the people who become ‘undone’. Those who cause too many wrinkles are cast away—undone. It’s gruesome and sad, but something that Luca and his father have to deal with on a daily basis.

Aquifer was a fast-paced and thought-provoking read and I recommend it to those who enjoy dystopian stories. It was a nice change to read about a young boy finding love for the first time, and the friendships he gains throughout the book with both the old and the young. Despite his age, Luca stands out as the strongest character in the book.

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