Archetype by M.D. Waters was one of the few dystopian books that focus on a future when women are marginalized. Lately most books I have read have kick-ass women bringing down dystopian worlds….Katniss, Triss, Cassia, etc. so it was nice change to read about a different type of world, one where half the women are badasses and the other half are Stepford Wives. This is because there has been a civil war in the U.S., though in this second civil war the East has split from the West.
Interestingly, the East is a place where many women grow up in work camps, which are abusive dorms, and then are eligible for marriage when they turn eighteen if they are fertile. You see, there is a fertility problem in the future. Those women who are not fertile better hope they are skilled enough to work in a trade, though they are treated more as slaves than professionals. Actually, those who marry aren’t much better off as they are expected to be obedient and bear children. In the West women have retained the freedoms of modern day and many have become guerilla soldiers in the war with the East.
Emma is woman married to Declan, the head of a powerful company in the East. She has been told she was in a bad accident, which explains her weakness and having to relearn how to walk, speak, etc. She is frustrated that she can’t remember anything, even her husband, though at night she has nightmares that seem so real, but they can’t be as the man in them is not her husband. Her doctor, Dr. Travista, seems particularly interested in her nightmares, though some instinct in her seems to be warning her not to tell him everything. She also notices something strange about the hospital she is in, all the workers are men. The only women she encounters are other patients and she befriends one woman named Ruby who must have also been in an accident as she appears to be very childlike. Plus, Ruby’s husband is nothing like Declan who has been so patient with her own recovery and loves her fiercely. Declan is protective of her and she is glad of that when in one of her nightmares the man in her dream tries to kill her.
Her dreams grow more intense and more confusing when the same man appears in her dreams as someone who loves her and she doesn’t understand what is happening to her, but by keeping all of this a secret she is able to go home with her husband and resume a life together, though in her art studio she keeps painting pictures of a beach and doesn’t understand why until one night at a gallery show of her work, when she meets the man of her nightmares, or is it of her dreams?