I picked up Laura Bynum’s VERACITY because of the interesting concept and strong writing in the few page sample I read. The concept has protagonist Harper Adams living in a dystopian society that formed in the aftermath of a large-scale bioterrorism attack. The interesting part is that this society tries to control thought, and thereby rebellion, by controlling language. They’ve red listed words that cause trouble, and the way they enforce this red list is particularly clever. Everyone has a gizmo surgically implanted when they’re young that is tied to their nervous system; it gives a tremendous shock when a red listed word is spoken. Ouch! And this nasty little thing is implanted in such a way that it can’t be removed without killing the victim.
The story is told from tightly within the perspective of Harper. Bynum’s prose are excellent and she does a great job of fleshing out this world. It begins at the moment when Harper tries to escape this horrific society, then the narrative jumps back in time to fill in the blanks of Harper’s life. The novel proceeds like that throughout, jumping back and forth in time. Such time-hopping can be annoying in stories, but Bynum does a great job of keeping everything clear and enjoyable.
About half of the story details the buildup to Harper’s escape attempt, and this is extremely interesting as we learn of her life inside this society. It was a real page-turner to that point. Then it goes into Harper with the rebellion and the story really slows down. It’s almost like Bynum’s original idea didn’t include anything beyond the buildup to the escape. It was a real disappointment given how strong the story was in the first half. The whole rebellion came off as contrived and unrealistic.
Nevertheless, Bynum’s prose alone are enough to make me want to look at what she does from here on out. I’d love to see what she can do with a fully fleshed-out concept.