The Record Keeper
18th June 2019
Publisher: Titan Books
To break it down, the white English people are the dominant race, while the black Kongos are field workers and servants. Marriage and family life are a thing of the past, as the world rulers have separated people into the ‘divine class’ and the working class. The divine class test children at a young age and those who they deem worthy can join school and work to become ‘Record Keepers’. Keepers are not allowed to run, jump or shout and they are taught that everything they are doing is for the greater good, including erasing the workers’ memories in order to keep the peace. When vine worker, Hosea Khan suspiciously joins the class, questions are raised, and Arika Cobane finds herself in the middle of it all, having to tutor the new boy while maintain relationships with her fellow classmates. As talk of a ‘new seed’ (a dystopian version of genetically modified food) emerges which will give the workers ‘more time to rest’ as the crops will grow quicker, Arika must decide which side of the argument she is on. Does she believe what she can hear or what she can see?
Why I liked this book:
The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion is an incredibly gripping narrative, which demands focus and an eye for detail. While it mostly maintains a chronological timeline, it does occasionally jump backwards to give some context to certain parts of the story which appear as though Arika is remembering them and seeing their importance now she understands what is going on. I felt that Gomillion has done a great job of creating a world which for me rivals the Divergent series. While I could have benefited from a map at the start of the book, I felt that the world was built in a ‘tell, don’t show’ style which I preferred, as there was no preamble about how the world got there, and instead you figured it out as the story progressed.
I liked most of the characters, who are all symptoms of the world they grew up in, yet probably sympathised with Arika the least. The other students all made time for one another and invited her along to parties and events, and yet still managed to receive the cold shoulder from her in her fight to be in power. Hosea is essentially working to the right goal, and understands a lot more from all angles, so I found him very likeable as he was understanding and loyal to his cause. William is a great character and one which often fails in these kinds of books to have any real impact, but I thought Gomillion wrote him perfectly.
Overall, The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion is an exploration into race politics and the oppression of minorities heightened to the extreme. It takes the idea of telling black people to forget about slavery and racism because ‘they no longer happen’ to a whole new level and exemplifies this in a way that cannot be ignored. I would recommend this book for people who are interested in hard-hitting dystopian science fiction novels told from a mature young adult perspective. If you’re looking for darkness, disease, death and destruction, look no further. This book is bleak, yet powerful and will keep you hooked the whole way through. Thank you Titan Books for my proof copy in exchange for my stop on the blog tour.