Meeks is the first dystopian novel that I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I started the genre with an exceptionally good title. For in this imaginary world (if indeed it is imaginary rather than futuristic), nothing is as it seems. The complexities of life are narrowed down to the need for a good pale suit to woo in, and an appetite for lovely and varied cakes.
The character of Meeks is a bit more complicated. He really doesn’t know who he is, and his namesake, Captain Meeks, is rather ambiguous. The city park boasts a statue of Captain Meeks, and his poster appears in certain city buildings. Is he a hero? Or is there an alternative reason? Our character Meeks appears to be something of a bum, one who insists that he’s helping the police in different investigations. Is he, or not? I don’t want to reveal spoilers, so I must word all of this carefully. Suffice to say, no character is typical. Are his police buddies sincere?
So what’s it all about? Reading this with a mind to a review was difficult-I was trying too hard to find meaning. I tried another tack, to just enjoy the novelty, and that made the difference. You have to let go of the need for explanation and symmetry to fall into the story. That isn’t to say there are no undercurrents of meaning: at times I wondered if the mints were actually a commentary on the pharmaceutical industry that numbs people into stagnation. Then again, the focus on fluffy frostings and sweets, rather than the fruits that Ben craved, could be an illustration of society’s dependence on immediate pleasure and sensual appetites over moral fortitude. Even without a deeper meaning, the story holds your attention and the writing is original and crisp.
Special thanks to Jedediah Berry of Small Beer Press for the Review Copy.