Emma wakes up in a room with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She’s told that she was in an accident, and her beloved husband Declan, is by her side to help her recover. But as small glimpses of Emma’s life begin to return to her, she realizes that the life Declan has created for her is not the life she was living. Why is Declan lying to her? What does he have to hide?
A fast-paced dystopian novel, Archetype is a puzzling read set in a world that, on the surface, appears similar to ours. But readers quickly realize that things are not as perfect as they seem; Waters combines great storytelling and an appealing main character to deliver a thrilling read that readers won’t be able to put down.
It takes a lot for a dystopian novel to impress me anymore. I’ve just read too many, so it’s hard to surprise me with something new. That’s why I enjoyed Archetype so much: It felt refreshing and different, set in a future that seems so much like our present. There aren’t many details given about the world, just hints and glimpses from what Emma can remember; after all, Declan is intent on Emma accepting his version of events and gives her as little information as possible. It’s a narrow view of the world, to be sure, but it’s effective. Readers focus on and become invested in Emma and her recovery, rather than any larger events going on around them.
Readers will absolutely believe Emma has lost her memory in Archetype. The way she talks is so strange, almost childlike. There’s clearly something off about her, even if she’s not aware of it. This tension, and the truth of what is really happening, is the driving force behind the story. Waters propels it along at a fast pace, and readers will race through the novel trying to figure out the truth behind the lies and misdirections.
Waters also takes on women’s issues in Archetype. In the world she presents, fertility has declined sharply. Few women are able to bear children; those who can are treated like property. The ones who can’t? They’re not even worth mentioning. They’re nothing. It’s a harsh world, and Waters does a great job bringing this difficult reality to the front and center. Women aren’t valued for who they are, but for their reproductive organs only. It’s frightening, yet very relevant, considering the debates that have been going on about women’s reproductive rights across the country over the past few years.
Archetype is the first in a two-part series, the conclusion of which will release in just a few months. I highly recommend you pick up this thriller; Waters has written a suspenseful novel with a cliffhanger ending that will leave you clamoring for the next book.