Terminal Regression by Mallory Hill is a young-adult science fiction novel featuring a pseudo-utopian world where the protagonist sows the seeds of revolution by revealing the true dystopian nature of their lives.
Terminal Regression deals with the classic stratification of society according to its members’ collective or personal function and abilities.
As a youngster herself, Mallory has explored the mind of a young suicidal depressive living under a totalitarian regime where the ‘higher management’ (government) classifies all citizens into communities according to their ‘call.’
The author doesn’t waste time or pages in world building. It wouldn’t have been relevant as the novel is about people’s tendencies to go with the wind contradicting the other human nature to fight back when the life of a loved one is endangered.
Meet Laura Bailey, the lonely, despondent protagonist, quite a relatable character. Laura’s skeptical nature isn’t ready to believe what she has learned since birth. The world she lives in isn’t perfect.
The girl begins to think she is a misfit because everybody else is happy with his or her place in the society. There is a clear dissimilitude between Laura and the rest of the art community members from the beginning of the story.
Laura doesn’t think art is her call. It’s easier to live a structured life and follow a set of rules rather than question one’s state of happiness. So she keeps her mouth shut and tries every other group coming up with nothing. Not a single profession is her passion, and she doesn’t find her call.
Depressed with the result, Laura decides to do the inevitable and asks for a ticket to the Terminus B. At this point of the book you will think the ticket to Terminus B is a metaphor for death and Laura’s initiative for the journey means suicide. You will be right and wrong.
That’s the beauty and the horror of the story. A group of people, or ‘management,’ decide on the sorting of the citizens and seal their fate according to their abilities.
Terminus B is another society divided into communities made of outcasts. Convicts, near-death patients, those with mediocre talents, are not the only ones who go there besides the misfits like Laura. Some are selected and brought here because they are suitable for management positions.
Laura realizes the truth as she meets the people of Terminus B. The jobs created in this area ensure the safety and contentment of the depressed and the suicidal.
The people of Terminus A are not aware that the Terminus B exists as nobody is ever allowed to go back to A. Laura tries to gather some desperate men and women to help her break that balance and publicize the existence of B.
Her motivation is a kind and warm personality, Will. Will is a childhood friend who reconnects with her in the train and becomes a permanent part of her life once she finds out he endures systematic torture because he is a convict from A.
Will is a warm and charming love interest. I liked the focused and empathetic relationship between Will and Laura. Nothing unrealistic given the situations, but adorable. I was almost in tears reading the lines where Laura finds out more and more about his condition.
Mallory Hill has created a beautiful romance between Laura and Will. Their love inspires Laura’s subsequent actions but it never takes away the focus of the story–people succumbing to an authoritarian government without a word of protest.
The story builds up like a slow dance. I found the first pace quite slow, but never realized when I had reached the end of the book.
However, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the book.
Laura’s state of mind became repetitive after a while as was her observation of the people around her in both terminals. Of course, I should have expected that as the book is in her POV.
According to the blurb, the theme is about ‘rare power and humanity.’ I didn’t see anything extraordinary in the lead character.
Laura did what Kat from Hunger games or Tris from Divergent or various other protagonists from YA dystopia novels did: revolt against the tyranny of the government. Only, here, there was no elaborate war or strategic destruction of the said management/government.
The young Bailey sought out her parents’ help in going back to the Terminal A and proved to both worlds the truth behind the existence of B. A non-violent and uncontroversial method of solving a serious issue, I must say. Not complaining, as this very approach has made Terminal Regression different from other books on similar themes.
So I think that the extraordinary power belongs to the author. Mallory has taken a subject of suicidal depression and created a beautiful tale of hope and love instead of another ‘sci-fi adventure.’
I can’t say I enjoyed the story as it is not meant to entertain, but the book has left a lasting impression on my mind. Worth a read, people, go for it.
I offer four Bohostars to Terminal Regression.
Note to readers
Dear science fiction lovers, there is no hard or even soft action in this book. Don’t expect hot, hair-rising, motivational dialogs. Don’t buy this book for the thrill, adventure, or even science.
If you think that the less talented ones deserve a happy and respectful life instead of being walled into a farm tending to pretend-jobs as they are of no use to the society, Terminal Regression is for you.
Did you read this book? Have you read something similar? Do you agree or disagree with my opinion? Share your thoughts in the comment section. You can also share your life experiences related to the book through your comments