Amendments, by H.M. Lynn

Amendments, by H.M. Lynn

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, nor do many indie publications flash up on my radar. There’s only so much reading time in a day, after all, especially when deadlines for my own next novel are scratching around the door frame. It was a chance recommendation from THE Book Club on Facebook that put Amendments on my Kindle earlier this month. I’m so glad it did. One of the reasons I’m glad is fairly self-centred: as I work on my own new plot line, it’s been a genuine pleasure to see twists, turns and cliffhangers handled with such assured aplomb. The other reasons will emerge below.

The dystopian world of Amendments reminded me a lot of William Gibson, but without the technological firecrackers. Emelia is about to turn 21, the age at which she has to register for her amendments. Everyone has two of these, which they can use to go back and fix errors, thus avoiding the regret of a bad decision. The registration for this right is marked by a silver scar to the palm. For some, it is a day of celebration. There are even a lucky few who hold onto their amendments until the end of their lives, when they use them to live it all again. Emelia knows from first hand family experience that life is not always so simple. Her father disappeared, her mother broke the amendment rules and suffered horribly before her death, and her sister, Finola, is vanishing into the whirlpool of addiction and chaos. Gabe, the family friend whose support has kept them afloat, has always seemed to be in love with Fi. As Em leaves the Centre with her newly scarred hand, she discovers that, in fact, his feelings are taken up with her. The trouble is, when you use an amendment, you also lose memories.

As I’ve said above, the plot is beautifully handled. Possibly those with a higher sci-fi IQ could find holes to pick at; I don’t tend to over-analyse, especially when I’m enjoying a first read through. The characters are engaging, the dialogue fluent and believable and the setting sketched in with just the right amount of detail for immersion. It’s very filmic in tone (think Looper and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Lynn manages to avoid info-dumping whilst dripping in enough to keep us afloat but still guessing: exactly the right balance. I started off just meaning to read for five minutes whilst I ate my lunch. Two hours later, and following several reminders from my son that I’d promised to help him with something, I had to force myself to put it down.

The world of the book, a near parallel to our own, works very well and I totally bought the grey, defeated existence of the Administrators, ‘eyelids smeared with a careless smudge of cheap blue makeup’, wielding their limited bureaucratic power with ‘passive disdain’. I could have done without the occasional sci-fi trope, such as the use of ‘Seksyen’ for a residential area – the book was strong enough not to need reminders of this sort – but that’s a minor niggle. This is an impressive debut, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for what Lynn publishes next time round.


You can download Amendments here.

1 Comment

  1. Ajfhudkeenna
    17 May 2015

    ‘Seksyen’ actually means ‘section’ in Malay and is used a lot in the name of residential areas 🙂 Lynn actually lives in Malaysia so that’s probably why she used it

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