Children/Young: La torre y la isla

Author: Ana Alonso y Javier Pelegrín
-Anaya Infantil y Juvenil
-US Release Date: 06-15-2012
-Reviewed by:María del Carmen Rivero
-Review Release:September 9, 2012

The book is the first of a series of science fiction novels set in 2121 in an invented realm controlled by Dedalos pharmaceutical corporation. It seems that most governments and other entities have now been displaced by corporations in this part dystopia, and part utopia young adult novel.

Our young protagonist, Martin, comes to Dedalos when he signs a contract, and is assured his mother and grandfather will be fine. He is joined by Alexandra, a school friend. Martin is awarded his contract because he is one of the few individuals who has a perfect immune system, and is supposed to be able to resist all kinds of diseases. He belongs to a subtype of blood C, and they are interested in studying him to create possible cures for many diseases; the benevolent reason appeals to Martin.

Once at the Dedalos compound, an island, he meets two other girls who also have blood C type.

There is one more person who has this blood type, Jacob, who has gone missing from the island. The energy crisis and the very limited supply of petroleum have caused shift in the mode of transportation and conglomeration of urban centers into one entity. Printed books are not allowed anymore.

Hinen, the director of the project and his two assistants, former Harvard professors, who now work for Dedalos, because there are no more universities, try to make them feel at home. However, something never feels right. The mere mention of Jacob brings apprehension from everyone in Dedalos.  They later discover Jacob had discovered a sinister part to the blood C experiment.

There are many beautiful descriptions of their surroundings and adventures in this almost 400 page book.  Along the way, they meet a serious of androids and robots who they befriend. Martin is also obsessed with finding out about his father.  His father was an eminent scientist who was incarcerated by the corporation because of his anti-globalization stance.  He finally decides to escape this utopia, but he is ambivalent about his choice.  Many more travails await them.

The central theme of the book is the lack of trust, or imperfect information, the young protagonists face in dealing with the apparent benevolent corporation who grants them their very wish, but at a price.  The utilitarian benefits of compliance -blind or otherwise, and the many levels lf allegiances in decision making. 

All these themes are of interest to a wider audience. The use of a beautiful, elegant prose  the appeal of the science fiction genre, especially of a series, render this book a possible candidate  for  translation.  The authors are both biologist who bring credibility to their writing in this genre.