Veracity (Laura Bynum novel)
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Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Genre||novel, literature, speculative fiction|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster's Pocket|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one-half of the country's population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, the Confederation of the Willing, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police force known as the Blue Coats, and a device called the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a forbidden, Red-Listed word is to risk physical punishment, or even death.
But there are those who resist. Guided by the fabled Book of Noah, they are determined to shake the people from their apathy and ignorance, and are prepared to start a war in the name of freedom. The newest member of this resistance is Harper—a woman driven by memories of a daughter lost, a daughter whose very name was erased by the Red List. And she possesses a power that could make her the underground warriors’ ultimate weapon—or the instrument of their destruction.
Harper Adams works as a Monitor for the totalitarian government, The Confederation of the Willing; it is a position that requires her to assist in their process of language restriction. Already disillusioned, Harper is driven to join the resistance when the word Veracity, her daughter's name, is "red-listed", making it unspeakable without punishment. She flees to the countryside where she's ushered into an underground bunker. There, Harper is prepared for her part in the pending war.
Lazarus is the leader of the underground resistance and, back when he'd been a part of the current regime, was a co-creator of 'the slate' - a strip of metal implanted in the front of one's neck through which the government restricts language and tracks the whereabouts of its citizens. Lazarus' resistance is made of up people who've either never been slated or who've broken their slates in order to join. His plan is to free citizens from a prescribed life by returning their freedoms of speech and individuality, and by restoring a democratic form of governance.
For the resistance, Ezra is both Lieutenant and Harper's combat trainer. As far as the government is concerned, she's a state-paid prostitute. Ezra's role is to prepare Harper for the coming war, as well distract the attention of Blue Coats (the government's cops) away from their activities and location.
John is Harper's recruiter and a spy for the resistance. His position as a Blue Coat gives him critical access to the government but also requires of him a brutality Harper has a hard time accepting.
Jingo is John Gage's partner, one of Ezra's 'regulars', and a particularly brutal Blue Coat officer. His efforts to find Harper and the elusive underground resistance nearly stop the war.
Mr. Wiegland was Harper's manager in the Monitoring department.
Candace was Harper's best friend and coworker in the Monitoring department. Candace was recruited into the resistance before Harper to devastating effect.
One of the main points of Veracity was to reinforce a return to informed public debate. A quote by Laura: "I believe in thinking critically. In knowing the difference between opinion and fact and in recognizing what the word ‘agenda’ sounds like in all its forms. I believe in how to recognize hate, despite the vessel carrying it, and being responsible for our own truths. I believe in knowing where each of our opinions came from, why we cling to them, if they’re right or wrong and if it's just maybe time to change one or two."
Security vs. Liberty
In this novel's version of the future, the government has taken over, using security as the dangling carrot. The steps taken to ensure this 'security' have systematically removed nearly all of the liberties held sacred by America's Founding Fathers. Veracity is a cautionary tale against this kind of barter - one's freedoms and the individuality they allow for the illusion that nothing bad will happen to them. Nothing bad save for the stripping away of all that once made that person their best, most fulfilled selves.
Slates and The Book of Noah
The leading technological advance in this society is the Slate which is a small prosthetic device surgically embedded in the neck at a very young age. It is controlled by a mass of government servers that monitor location, activities, and most importantly, the speech of every last citizen. To ensure its utilization by a citizen, it is implanted in such a way that removal causes death. Members of the resistance have discovered a painful, but survivable, method of permanently disabling the slate. One of the first things Lazarus plans to do after having taken back control of the government is to turn these slates off and return to citizens their ability to say what they want, go where they want, etc.
The Book of Noah is a mythical volume whose existence the government denies. It is thought that The Book of Noah holds the key to regaining control over the government and restoring rights to its citizens. One of the very few remaining volumes is owned by the resistance and shared with Harper when she joins. The Book of Noah is said to hold all the answers to all the questions one could ever ponder which, in a way, is true. It is the dictionary. Something banned by the Confederation who have begun to understand that censorship begins with the word. By effectively erasing all words that might solicit understanding of what they're actually up to, the government controls the minds of their subjects. They have Red Listed: words that hint at what a truly fulfilling and unique life might feel like; words that would suggest a banding together of the repressed majority to fight the controlling minority; words that point to such things as selflessness, courage, revolution. All are truths the government wants to contain.