Mandate: Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling is an exciting dystopian novel. Like many of these books, this one centers around the dropping fertility rates of the human race. An ultra-conservative group has control of England, and due to the rapidly dropping rates, they released a new law, all females thirteen years and older must be checked for hormones and the ability to carry children. When Micheal Randell’s daughter Hope is marked as fertile, he goes as far as he can to keep her safe.
When I first saw the offer to review this book, I thought, oh boy, another one of these. Female infertility blame dystopian future has been done a lot. However, Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is well done. While much of the focus is on female infertility, everything from birthing schools to baby farmers, there are also several instances when it is stated that males are also to blame. I found this to be a satisfying change to an often worn-out concept. Another pleasing difference in this book compared to many of its kin of a similar genre is that the main characters are father and daughter. So instead of being given a single view from a female perspective, we are also given the additional complications of a strained father-daughter relationship. Anyone who has et sort n a teenager can recall how complicated parental relationships can be.
While I touched on it briefly above, I will go into more detail here. The father-daughter relationship between Micheal and Hope is realistic, in all its ups and downs and half-thought-out comments. No man can entirely comprehend what a young teenage girl is thinking, and no young adolescent girl has any idea what a middle-aged man is thinking. This leads to several complications throughout the story that feel as though they could have been witnessed in real life.
So the real question is, is Mandate: Thirteen worth picking up? Yes. Refrain from letting the similar-sounding story fool you. Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is a breath of fresh air.