Review: Citizen by Yvonne Anderson


FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

I was mighty excited to be getting the chance to review Citizen, the second installment of Yvonne Anderson’s three part science fiction serial The Four Lives of J.S. Freeman. In Stillwaters, the previous book, Jemima Freeman (Jemma), the female lead, had a cruddy experience in her “first life” with her older brother Ibro in the previous book. What followed was both the death of Ibro and her father. Originally from Freemansland, Jemma, her twin brother Jeriah, and their friend Mayne, would grow to join the military of the City, the very people Jemma once hated as a Freemanslander. With Jemma having agreed to marry a “Citizen First Class” and put her old feelings towards the City behind her, I was raring to see what followed.

In an alternate world called Umban, the time has come for Jemima Freeman, an information officer of the City’s military, to live her third life as the wife of a Citizen First Class named Ashgrey Standtall. After their marriage ceremony, the two go on to what Jemma feels is the best week of her first three lives. The newlyweds soon return to normal life. A rebellion seems to have started against the City, the dominant superpower of Umban. Jemma becomes sick while working through unofficial wartime conditions in a region of Umban called Arkentak. After this, the unexpected happens and she finds herself buried beneath a pile of rubble. The world around her changes. Rescued and taken to a City hospital, she learns just how much.

The beginning focuses a lot on how things work in the Standtall family. For one, they are different from other noble City families in that the men won’t somatically mistreat the women and the women are offered protection if anything to that effect should happen. Men subjugating women is a normal thing of society and even Jemma knows the truth of this. This is where the Standtall family differs from others. Jemma is revealed to be a woman who doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I couldn’t help but view her as a suitable addition to the Standtall family and I could see that she truly loved Ashgrey. Jeriah though, isn’t too happy about these two.

There is a vast difference between the Jemma of Citizen and the Jemma of Stillwaters. She seems to be fully invested in being one of the City’s people: the same people she once referred to as “Cityslime”. Her twin brother Jeriah has a problem with her in the beginning in that she’s never made any real effort to meet his children, yet she’s met and even told bedtime stories to her still soon-to-be husband Ashgrey Standtall’s nephews and nieces. She hasn’t talked to Jeriah’s wife Seena in a while too. It’s not really clear why, but when Jemma chooses to hug Seena in a later scene rather than look at her face directly, what is clear is that there’s definitely some form of resentment towards Seena from Jemma’s side.

“Beginning with the shooting at the spa in Dabamal, my steps outside the compound were dogged by gunmen, fires, hazardous spills, and vehicle mishaps.” Before she became sick, she and her husband had talked about things that always seemed to happen wherever she found herself because of her job. Was it all just coincidence? I was definitely interested in finding out what these coincidental happenings were all about, but certain plot developments along the way made me loose this interest as the author took the story in a different direction than what I expected. The Kenta Rebellion is more of a distant event for the protagonist who isn’t in the actual midst of it. Rather, she gives us information about it.

Having read the first book, I was looking forward to seeing Jemma cross paths with Mayne, the Freemanslander she grew up with, but he is merely mentioned in the book. Jemma is happy with Ashgrey and there is nothing substantial to make readers think that she has feelings for Mayne. Her marriage is a happy one at first, but boredom soon causes Jemma to drink, becoming a problem for Ashgrey. Leaving readers with a sense of relief, Ashgrey manages to solve the problem and he also motivates Jemma to do something creative with her time.

“I tried not to imagine the deaths. The utter destruction. The people I’d known – my stylist in Dabamal, the clerk in the liquor store in Yarapit, the front desk clerk at the hotel in Kenta City.” Anderson doesn’t really drive these words home because these people that Jemma is thinking about aren’t there for readers to meet and connect with. Having no idea who these people were, I couldn’t see the point as to why the author mentions them. Meeting these people and having actual names, character traits, and words to recall would’ve made a big difference.

The person Jemma is is nothing sort of an inspiring human being. In this fantasy world, she has experienced something horrible as a child and she has these two dormant worms embedded in her brain that, if they should suddenly decide to wake up, will drive her mad and eventually kill her. But despite this, she has ended up with a man who loves her, completed a decade of military service, and went on to do something that I didn’t expect with her life. Thus, Anderson shows readers that one can indeed live happily despite the things that make us different from everybody else. The last few chapters were truly fascinating despite the sudden tragedy that befell the Standtall family.

As with the first book, I liked the similarities between the author’s fantasy world and that of our own. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first, but it was wonderful seeing what has become of Jemma’s life. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy real world stories intertwined with a well defined alternate world. Recommended for those who are looking for something new and fruitful to do with their lives.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Date Published: May 15, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Pages: 230
View on Amazon

Published by Frank Frisson

Living in Cape Town, South Africa. People often tell me that I should get out more, but I'd rather read my brains out.

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