In a bleak near future, Earth is devastated by overpopulation and climate change. To control overpopulation, children must, on their eighteenth birthday, choose one of their parent’s to die in a public execution. As Miri’s birthday approaches, she must choose between the mother she loves and the mother who might be the only hope to save the world.
I thought the concept for this book was quite interesting, but really did not enjoy the execution for a number of reasons.
First, there are really no likable characters in this novel. The book alternates viewpoints between Miri and her mother Jac, and I did not enjoy being in either perspective. Miri is incredibly angry that she was ever born. She blames her mothers for forcing this choice upon her, and has spent the last few years away from home, not taking care of herself. While I understand that choosing a parent to die is horrible, I just found Miri to be…unpleasant? She’s so self-absorbed while also being rigid in her beliefs that she should never have been born. Which brings me to my biggest gripe with this book- why did Miri not kill herself? If a child dies, the parents do not have to do the Offset and Miri has clearly stated that she does not want to be alive. The entire premise of this book does not make sense because Miri has that clear choice and everything about her character says that she would take it. I think this is a huge issue in the story.
I did enjoy Jac’s perspective mildly more, mainly because her perspective revolved around Project Salix, which is her project to help lower the carbon levels on earth by planting genetically modified tress in Greenland. I thought the project was fascinating, though these chapters were heavily filled with jargon that I did not always understand. In Jac’s chapters, she’s visiting one of the labs to check on the trees because she believes someone might be sabotaging the project. Jac’s chapters ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I would’ve liked to see the story more fully developed.
There are some side characters in the story, but they are never fully fleshed out or even given names. Side characters instead are referred to by title, like The Archivist or The Medic and they play a very small role in the story. Because there aren’t great characters and there are major flaws in the plot, I thought it read very slowly.
This book was not a favorite for me, but I do think the concept of the Offset is incredibly compelling. If you like a bleak, disturbing dystopia you may enjoy this more than I did.
If you’ve read The Offset be sure to tell me what you thought! Also, tell me your favorite dystopian novel! I’m always looking!
CW: animal abuse, murder, death of a parent