The year is 2075 and the place is The Republic. The Republic is an isolated island completely cut off from the rest of the world - if it still exists. The island survived due to the machinations of The Academy. This body controls the lives of the people of The Republic. They guard against the five great threats to order: "Impurity of Breeding, Impurity of Thought, Indulgence of the Individual, Commerce, and the Outsider."
Young Anax is taking her oral history exam in front of the Examiners from The Academy. She has prepared for many years in her topic - the life and times of Adam Forde. Forde defied the rules and rescued a girl from the sea and his defiance shaped the future of Anax's world.
This slim book takes place over the course of Anax's five hour exam. Everything she thought she knew and believed is challenged by the Examiners. She has not been given all of the history, some has been held back.
Using oral history and holograms, we follow the life of Ford. The Examiners questions Anax's interpretation of that history. The philosophical questions posed are absolutely fascinating. Beckett presents arguements that make perfect sense, but will challenge your belief system. What does it mean to be human?
I don't want to give too much away, but looking at the cover will give you an idea - a human and a robot. The ending provides a great twist, although I did see it coming.
It wasn't until I finished this small novel (185 pages) that I realized it is marketed as a young adult novel. Personally, I think it would only appeal to the older YA crowd. It is strictly dialogue and thought driven, with no action. Not my usual type of read, but I did enjoy it and found the ideas presented thought provoking. The publisher's blurb refers to it as "this generation's Brave New World."