Genesis, by Bernard Beckett, is a slim novel, easily overlooked by the much larger, and longer, books around it. However, this novel of only 150 pages, is one of the best works of science fiction I have read. While you think you understand the plot and the characters, prepare yourself for an excellent twist at the end.
Anaximander ("Anax") has prepared for her four hour interview for acceptance into The Academy, the organization that rules her utopian society. The society was created, just after the start of The Last War, in 2050, by an extremely wealthy man, "Plato," who built The Great Sea Fence surrounding Aotearoa (which seems a lot like New Zealand, the author's home). The Great Sea Fence provides an extremely effective defense against the plagues that have wracked the Earth, as well as repelling potential refugees or aggressive nations. The people that man the watchtowers have a simple duty: dispatch, with extreme prejudice, anyone or anything that approaches the Sea Fence. Prior to erecting The Great Sea Fence, Plato had moved the society toward a state of technology-rich self-sufficiency. However, to adequately run the new society, Plato invoked some rather extreme rules, but based on fear of the outside world; fear of infection or war.
The novel uses an interesting structure, in that it takes place as Anax' interview by The Academy's Examiners. You are presented Anax's questioning, which focuses on her expertise with one particular Soldier, Adam Forde. Adam was working at one of the watchtowers when he allowed a girl, drifting in a small boat near The Great Sea Fence, to come ashore. Strictly forbidden, Adam was put on trial, while execution should have been the standard sentence, politically, this was not prudent. Instead, he was allowed to live the rest of his life in a comfortable cell with an android. The android, "Art," was the latest revision but required more interaction with humans, and Adam was deemed a perfect candidate. Anax' interview answers incorporate much of the conversations between Art and Adam. While this may seem tiring, it is not, as you see them argue the nature of consciousness, humanity, and the superiority of the human mind.
I was so immersed in the excellent story, that I was totally caught off guard by the twist at the end. The ramifications of which will linger with you, long after turning the last page. As such, this is book that you will find yourself reading a few more times. Interestingly, Beckett is cast as an author of "Young Adult" fiction, but this book should not be characterized as such. It is an excellent, accessible, thought provoking novel for all ages.