Book Review: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey



Our Dried Voices is the story of Samuel, a young man who lives in a world where all major diseases and other things that often kill people have been eliminated. Humans now live on a planet called Pearl, in colonies where their every need is met. The result of this is a rather brainless group of folks. They eat the same meal cakes every day according to the timing of the meal bells. They wander around in fields and in their sleeping quarters. Besides occasionally having sex with random partners for fun, they really don’t do much else. They rarely even talk and when they do, it’s instilled sentences with the words all running together.

Then one day, the meal cakes don’t appear. With brains that have surely atrophied, most people simply mope around, hungry, returning each meal time with hopes that food will appear. Some resort to eating grass, others don’t even bother. But Samuel, who has managed to hold on to a bit of wonder about the world, searches out the problem. He soon discovers “heroes”—people who come in and fix things when they go wrong. But the more things go wrong, the more he wonders if these so-called heroes aren’t the ones causing the trouble to begin with. He makes a startling discovery and is faced with a decision that will change his world forever.

I found this world to be disturbing at a basic level. The idea that having all of our needs met would lead humans to a place where they can’t even think for themselves is terrifying. And where was the art in this world? Luckily, there seem to be a few people in the colony, like Samuel, who retain the use of their brains and find ways to solve problems. But it wouldn’t take much to kill off the colony entirely. Just stop the meals for good and in a short time, they’d perish with no struggle at all.

The character in this story was interesting in that he sort of comes to life throughout the book. In the beginning, he doesn’t have much character and not much is going on. It was a bit slow for me, following this character that was something like a zombie wandering around, waiting for food. But when he started trying to fix things, I was rooting for him. In the end, he makes a very tough decision, but this shows the true character that has emerged from his trials; a character with integrity, loyalty, and maybe even love. It’s rather like an awakening of emotions and thoughts. I hope that Samuel will help others in the colony as he started helping his friend, Penny, to see the world for what it is and what it could be—much more than living a life where everything is handed to you.

This review originally appeared on Pubslush.

The Goodreads Description

In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity.

Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence.

With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.
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