“Compelling story of the human spirit and the deeply ingrained desire to be free.”
How very true this is. I was dying to read Chasing Freedom in full, because I had read bits and pieces of it in order to give Marina feedback. Knowing her dystopia was set in the near future, about ten years after my own dystopian series ends was one of the reasons, but not the only one.
I have come to regard Marina as a friend. We indies need to support each other, be encouraging and stick together, especially we who are deemed less than optimum by those who have hijacked fiction to push an agenda. This is not news to many people, but for those who aren’t aware of it, Conservative and Libertarian artists often get the shaft, be they authors, actors, musicians or other creative types.
In music, Rock & Roll icon Ted Nugent, one of the best guitarists to come out of Classic Rock, is despised by way too many people because he champions the second amendment to the US Constitution, while other Classic Rock artists are beloved by Americans across the broad political spectrum even though they themselves are to the Left of Bernie Sanders in ideology, all while living as part of the 1% whom they insist Americans should hate. Yet no one seems to see anything out of the ordinary.
There are probably other examples of the double standard in the arts; I’m just listing what I know off the top of my head.
The shaft comes from all the usual suspects: Traditional publishing houses and agents that promote a single ideology and only that ideology, therefore dismissing talented authors who believe differently, Hollywood blacklisting of Conservatives, which ultimately led to the formation of the group Friends of Abe (who have incurred shafting just for daring to join together for support), and, of course, the old stand-by: When successful authors of a certain ideology dare to question the status quo, they are smacked down as angry white men, racists, sexists and homophobes. This despite the facts: They themselves are men and women of Portuguese descent and not caucasians, one is married to a black woman, and the aforementioned woman, a Portuguese immigrant/American citizen by choice, is a bestselling author who writes books and stories featuring gay characters.
For anyone who is reading this and perhaps not quite believing it, I can’t help you. All I know is what I see, which I have described above with supporting links. And this is what is so darn frustrating.
Despite story after story describing the lead-up to Marina’s dystopia, and also mine, some people still dismiss us as cranks. This despite the fact that American citizens who escaped from totalitarian societies (including Marina) warn us over and over that we are on the path to a place we do not want to go. They should know; they lived it. Yet few will listen, because the alternative is to be “uncool.”
We aren’t the cool kids; we don’t agree that certain symbols representing American History, even though they offend some, should be purged. And we have our reasons. If battle flags and statues of Confederate Generals are purged from the public eye, it might be easy to purge them from the history books at some point. And, if the bad parts of American history disappear from the history books, how will future generations learn not to allow a different version of slavery to be foisted upon them?
This is the point that people who base their ideology on “feelings” miss, time and time again. And I bring up this particular attempt to purge history because of an incident last summer, where my husband, who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, in order to show his support of free expression and his hatred of purging, placed a small Confederate flag on his truck bumper.
A week or so later, a crazy man was waiting for him as he came out of the bank. This man proceeded to begin the name calling of “racist, racist,” screaming at my husband that he should drive into the wrong of side of town in Wilmington, DE, so the residents there could see the bumper sticker and “f–k you up.”
This could have ended badly. My husband does not take any shit, but that day he was forced to counter this idiot with only the words “f–k off.” He couldn’t risk any kind of altercation because he was on blood thinners, and might have incurred a brain bleed if the crazy man, who was younger then he by at least 10 years, knocked his head against the truck.
I’m writing all of the above because situations like these, if not stopped soon, may lead us to real dystopias like Marina’s fictional one.
This should give one pause. Take a moment to reflect on the above points, and remember the old saying: “You may not be interested in politics, but politics are interested in you.” Please, if you’re on the fence, get off. Choose Freedom, so your children and grandchildren won’t be forced to chase it.
Below is my review ~ 5 Stars.
Being quite familiar with dystopian literature, having read plenty over the years, it’s always a pleasure to find something completely different. Marina Fontaine’s Chasing Freedom is just that–completely different.
To begin, the setting (near future America from 2040 – 2058) distinguishes this novel from others set further in the future. This is quite a change from the majority popular dystopias, such as The Hunger Games, set far away in time. The Hunger Games and similar stories, though they are compelling, don’t have the same impact as Fontaine’s debut novel. When a book takes you, the reader, to places you already know in the back of your mind are quite possibly in your future, the ride can be scary. But while certain situations portrayed are grim, the author does a superb job of conveying just enough to allow readers to know what has happened to a given character without being gruesome.
When the novel begins, the majority of the characters are living in dark and oppressive “Cities.” The Cities are planned high-rise slums, where human beings who once lived quiet suburban lives, with jobs and families, have been forced to move by the government. The Cities, and the system, are soul crushing, hateful, and in some cases, deadly. Ordinary freedoms like music, books, religion and even creative outlets such as art are strictly prohibited. Health care is doled out by bureaucratic fiat according to “need” or “quality of life”, and children may or may not be approved for college educations, depending on their embrace of the system.
Out of this darkness come rays of hope in the characters who begin a rebellion. Main characters Randy and Julie begin the resistance movement as teens, yearning for freedom and willing to fight for themselves and others. These characters and the other freedom fighters endure great pain–emotional, mental and physical–as their movement grows, slowly but surely.
Loss of Freedom in America is certainly not out of the question. Anyone who is paying attention knows this. Perhaps that’s why the dystopian genre has exploded over the past five years or so. But while the subject matter portrayed in Chasing Freedom gives one pause, it also gives hope. As stated above, the course of the novel covers 18 years, the time from the beginning of the rebellion till the beginning of something better. In those 18 years we see Randy, Julie, Chris, Daniel and other freedom minded kids grow into mature leaders, parents, husbands and creative types. Fontaine’s use of mountains in New York, quiet Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and suburban New Jersey as settings enhances the story, making it relatable in additional ways, since people live and work and go on vacations in these places now, today in 2016.
This debut novel is a great reading experience. I cared about the characters, cried with them in their sorrow and rejoiced with them in their victories. To end, I will simply say that even though America seems to be headed for exactly the scenarios depicted, I was left with a feeling of hope. Freedom is not free. It was (and is) hard won. And though it can be thrown away with both hands by some people, there will always be others who will fight to get it back.
Above is my criteria for book reviews. Chasing Freedom earned five stars from me, and I hope others will purchase the book and read it. It really is something special.
Marina Fontaine is a Russian by birth, an American by choice, and an unrepentant book addict.
Because of her background, Marina has always appreciated an opportunity to discover, share and support pro-freedom literature. She runs Small Government Book Fan Club on Goodreads, Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance group on Facebook, and a personal commentary/review blog, Marina’s Musings.
In addition, she is a part of the Creators’ Team at Liberty Island website, where she contributes book reviews and occasional creative work. In December of 2013, she entered a Liberty Island flash fiction contest with a story that became an inspiration for Chasing Freedom, her first novel.
Marina lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband, three children and four guinea pigs, working as an accountant by day and a writer by night. Her other interests include hard rock music, action movies and travel.