Adam and Eve in the Garden of Neuroses. Vrinda Pendred has penned what is undoubtedly a controversial young adult narrative regarding a society built on its own mental unwellness. Welcome to Equilibria where your OCD is everyone’s primary concern.
Anna Nolon has many fears, but her most current are the empty chair next to her in Maths class and a chipped nail. While one of those is a quick fix, the other requires divine intervention for resolution, only what the Great Organiser delivers is a hot mess, in direct conflict with social norms. Anna isn’t sure if Aaron King is a hawk or a pig, but she wants to be a hawk with him.
Vrinda Pendred has a lot of neat tricks in Equilibria, starting with the name palindromes. All the characters’ first and last names are mirror names: Anna, Renner, Elle, Emme, Izzi, Eve, Otto… And the same with the last names Nolon and Kilik. The only name that bucks convention is Aaron’s, and that makes sense because so does he.
There are too many things I don’t wish to spoil in this book, so I want to handle the book review delicately. I will mention that there is a heavy emphasis on mathematics, engineering, logic, music, and other sciences. I loathe maths. But there is one quote in this book that made it sound beautiful.
‘Mathematics isn’t just about numbers and symbols, you know. That’s just the way humans express it. It’s a language. And sometimes, language–any language–is inadequate. But maths–real, natural maths–it’s all around us. It’s in us. I am one. You and I are two. And we’re two parts of the whole that is the world–the universe.’
Waxing poetic about my nemesis is worth a star.
Equilibria is going to be hard for many ‘normal’ people to get into because they will find it hard to get started. OCD is ridiculous to us who have it, and to people who don’t, it is going to read like nonsense. The first thirteen percent of the book is Anna and her rituals and conundrums. It’s a lot. The payoff is more than worth it.
If I were to change anything, I wish the ending was more daring.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary advance copy of this book.
Author: Vrinda Pendred
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Dystopian Future
Release Date: 24 November 2019
Anna Nolon is obsessive – about everything. She worries about her grades, her appearance, germs, the pattern of her footsteps, the number of syllables in the words she says, her parents’ approval, the future and, most of all, death.
It’s okay – so does everyone else. This is Equilibria: the first society built to accommodate OCD.
But when Aaron comes along – the strange new boy who doesn’t quite fit into that pristine society of Holy Balance and Order – Anna is forced to look at the dark shadows hanging over her and decide if perfection is really what she wants.
About Vrinda Pendred:
Vrinda Pendred originally grew up in Arizona, but moved to England in 1999, where she now lives with her husband and their two sons. Her first novel was The Ladder, a story about two friends learning to grow through their difficult childhoods and find the light that lies inside themselves. She followed this with the YA sci-fi / fantasy series The Wisdom.
Vrinda also runs a publishing house for writers with neurological conditions, called Conditional Publications. Their first book, Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD, was released in 2010 (e-book and paperback).
In addition to her writing, Vrinda does freelance proofreading and editing, and previously tutored GCSE / A-Level English. In her free time, she loves books, music, languages, dance, singing, tarot and tea.
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