I don’t often read dystopian novels because of the claustrophobic doom that often hovers over them. But I’m glad I received an advance reader copy of Jessica Bell’s newest novel, How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness, because the end is so bright.
You’ll find my review below and on Goodreads.
Jessica Bell’s newest novel, How Icasia Bloom Touched Happiness is a philosophical tour-de-force dressed as a dystopian journey that brandishes elements of classics such as “The Hand Maid’s Tale” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
Twenty-year-old Icasia Bloom lives in a world overtaken by one ruler, the enigmatic Governor Jacobson. He’s instituted rules that force people to find purpose and happiness in their employment. If they don’t do so by a certain age, they’re terminated with no hope of having their souls joined together with those of loved ones in a technologically-based afterlife. More disturbing, to keep the population stable, girls are artificially impregnated by the age of 15 and then sterilized, including 20-year-old Icasia, who has a 5-year-old son.
Icasia lives on the edge of this rigid society by being a Tatter, or someone who earns a living bartering favors for food and other goods, as in tit-for-tat. Rather than marry either her son’s sperm donor or another man of her choice, she forges her own path with her parents’ support. She doesn’t believe she possesses a passion for any kind of profession, until one day when she meets Selma, the owner of a newly-opened bakery.
Icasia is swiftly drawn into the drama surrounding Selma’s husband, who receives a letter stating he faces imminent annihilation without salvation because he hasn’t found the happiness and fulfillment the government requires.
Ever resourceful, Icasia plunges in with one strategy after another in her attempts to help Selma save her husband. Each effort drives Selma further down a philosophical path of what it means to be human until she finds the source of her own happiness, an epiphany that saves her and those she now loves.
Wrapped in the guise of a gritty world where the government ties a pretty bow around death and pressures people to the point of breaking, Icasia’s story inspires intense thought about human existence and the incredible power we possess to create our own happiness.
Now available via Amazon and all other online booksellers.
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