Alexandra’s Letter Essay #6: The Thirteenth Continuum

February 23, 2016

I have recently finished reading the book The Thirteenth Continuum, written by debut author, Jennifer Brody. This 402 page science fiction book features two determined characters with separate lives. The narrator follows Myra and Aero as they attempt to break free from their very different, but equally oppressive governments. The author does a fantastic job of intertwining their stories, enough so that it constantly leaves you wanting to read more. This novel had earned recognition from many well-known author such as Victor LaValle, Kirby Howell, and even the producer of the Lord of The Rings, Mark Ordesky. I chose to read this book not only because of the lack of pages in my science fiction section for the 40 book challenge, but also the cover is something that intrigued me. After reading the blurb, I was sure that it was going to be a story that interested me, and so after just three days of reading it, I was able to confirm that statement.

The story starts off with ten year old Sari. All of a sudden the alarms start blaring in the White House.  After she is escorted to meet her family in front of an enormous submersible, it is explained that the “doom” has reached Earth. Her family as well as the chosen ones embark on the submarine and make their way to the Thirteenth Continuum. This project was designed to create 13 human colonies where chosen humans can go to escape the doom. After 1,000 years, the people that remain in the colonies that are located within trenches, in space, and far below the ground are to come out, guided by the device that will be connected to the leader of each colony, more specifically the Beacon. Sari watches as her sister, Elianna, bonds with the Beacon. It can only be connected with a child and be removed once that person dies, and is then passed on to succeeding leaders. Once they reach the colony, the story flashes forward 1,000 years to the life of Myra, who is still living in the makeshift city underwater. She faces the problem of a corrupt government, run by the Synod, a group of people that pledge their allegiance to the Oracle, and believe that the only way they can survive is by sacrificing civilians to the holy sea. Once she finds out that the Animus Machine, the device that keeps the colony oxygenated by converting oxygen from the water to breathable air, is not working anymore, she and her friends decide that they have to escape, or eventually face the time when everyone will suffocate. After a long search for the beacon, which the Synod had tried to destroy, Myra and her companions take the submarine that her father built in secret and manage to escape the colony and make their way to the surface of the earth.

Simultaneously, the story of Aero is also described. He is living in a space colony, or more specifically the second continuum. As soon as it is announced that they are going back to earth to try to make their way to its surface, Aero tries to prepare his troop for the event. Following an injury to his shoulder and a few of his soldiers, a controversy breaks out between the members of the colony of whether Aero is fit to lead the troop to the surface, or if he was chosen just because the commander of the continuum is his father. In a tense few minutes, Aero’s father is murdered by one of the generals and it is discovered that the colony’s government has also gone corrupt. A battle now breaks out between the colony as it is split in half, but Aero and his lieutenant, Wren, manage to escape with the beacon and make their way down to Earth. The story ends as both characters finally land on the surface.

I was surprised by the treatment that innocent people received from the Synod. They arrested Mr. Bishop because they found out that he had stolen pictures containing people that came from before doom. Anything from that time period is deemed illegal, so therefore anyone in possession of such thing “shall be put to sea.” Before they executed his death, the Synod members tried to retrieve information from him because they assumed that he wasn’t working alone. To get him to talk, they arrested his nine year old twin daughters and tortured them, hoping that this aggressive act will force him to relay important information. I found this very shocking because up until that point, I did not realize how corrupt the government actually was. To beat some innocent children was something that must have gone against everyone’s moral beliefs, but they showed no mercy. Another contributing factor to why Myra was motivated to leave the colony was because of the strictness and unjustifiable way of the Synod. This was a prime example of the wrong ways that they treated people.

I liked the way the author included two different stories in the same book.  At first it seemed as if it was only going to be about Myra, but eventually the author started to include Aero too. Throughout the book, she was able to incorporate realistic times when the two characters met each other. For example, when Aero bonded with the beacon, while he was unconscious Myra came into his dream. Apparently there is a connection between all the carriers of the beacon so they were able to communicate a few times towards the end of the story. It really enhanced the book and made it better since each person was facing their own problems, so they were able got a new perspective on things from each other.

I would say overall the theme of the book is perseverance. Both characters faced many times when it would have been a lot easier to just give up. However, they were both determined to make it back to Earth; that was the intention of the continuums. It took Myra and her friends countless days to locate the beacon, after encountering confusing messages and indirect puzzles. Even though they were stumped many times, they didn’t give up until they finally found it. It was also a struggle for the kids getting out of there, since the Synod was just about ready to trap the submarine. After bringing a few people to the realization of how wrong the government was, they helped hold the Synod off until the submarine successfully made it into the ocean. The whole process of reaching the surface was a tough one, but she pushed through it.

One passage that I was struck by took place during one. Of Myra’s secret meetings with her friends. She was talking to Elianna through the beacon.

Because I’m you, just as you’re me now, Elianna answered.

Then you know that I’m afraid. Myra thought back this time instead of whispering aloud. It worked, for Elianna seemed to understand perfectly.

It’s not fear that determines our fate, but how we choose to react to it, Elianna communicated to her. That’s the meaning of courage (p. 299)”

I liked this passage of writing because it communicated an important message. It helped Myra gain more confidence instead of feeling scared of what she was about to do. I also liked that it was a very broad statement. After I read that line, I just thought about it for a moment, trying to understand it.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. After a few weeks of barely reading anything because I couldn’t find book that I really liked, I was really glad to have found this book. Science fiction is also not my favorite genre, but now I will definitely keep my eyes open. I would give this book a 10 out of 10.
-Alexandra Popescu

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *