The Name on Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns (review copy) - In Corin's world, your carpinomen - the name of your soul mate, marked indelibly on your wrist - is everything. It shapes your whole life, and sets out your future. People spend decades searching for the one they're supposed to be with.
But what if you never find your soul mate? What if you fall for someone else - someone other than the name on your wrist?
And what if - like Corin - you're desperate not to be found?
The winner of the Sony Young Movellist, chosen by Malorie Blackman. From the blurb.
When I first heard about The Name on Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns, it sounded like a really intriguing story, but I had no idea just how brilliant it was going to be!
Corin lives in a world where around the age of two or three, a name appears on everyone's wrists, the name of their carpinomen - the person they would have an anima-vinculum, a soul bond. In short, the name on your wrist was your soul mate, and at a certain point in the future, in your late teens/early 20s, you went on a search to find them. However, Corin is against this whole soul mates thing. Why can't she choose who she wants to be with? Why should she have her whole future mapped out in front of her, without a choice, just because of the name on her wrist? And what happens if she starts making decisions for herself?
The Name on Your Wrist is an incredible debut! It's so unbelievably clever, and so well thought out! But it doesn't get overly complicated. There was an answer to every question I had, a quite detailed answer - this a full and realised world, and it's quite obvious that Hiorns has one hell of an imagination. I got completely lost in this story of Corin, who has had quite a few knocks in her life - the death of her father, her mother acting like nothing happened, her sister's mental breakdown, humanity proving her right over and over, being let down over and over. Corin is so cynical of pretty much everything and beyond pessimistic, it's almost like she doesn't know how to be positive. But she's also quite strong, with quite the backbone, meeting all judgements head on with sarcasm and insults of her own. But then she starts getting to know Colton, a boy at the Education Centre, and things change slightly for her.
But this is not a love story, despite capinomen and anima-vinculum, despite Colton. This is anything but. The Name on Your Wrist is actually quite a tragic story in the end. Dystopia generally comes in trilogies or series, with the first book setting up the world, and having the main character start to see the cracks and wanting things to change, before that change starts in the following books. The Name on Your Wrist is a stand alone. There is no follow up book, and its 261 pages. This is not a story of the oppressed fighting back. This is a snapshot of life in a world without choice, a snapshot where Corin discovers the truth, a snapshot of her realising that this is just life.
The main focus of the book is, should humanity have a choice? In Corin's world, the government decides where everyone lives and what career they will have. No-one has more than two children, and wealth is distributed evenly. And, of course, you end up with your soul mate. Of course, I'm sure you, as I did, answer the question with of course humanity should have a choice. But when put up against the state of the world now, where we do have choice, and it throws up all kinds of questions. There are quite a few opinions expressed by Corin in this book, and it seems like they could be Hiorns own opinions. This could be wrong, they could just simply be Corin's - about humanity and how we treat the world - but, either way, they don't come across as preachy. Considering the world Corin lives in, and considering the world, the opinions shared are just really thought-provoking. What is better? Some parts of this dystopia world are thought to better, even by Corin herself... but would they be? It's really, really clever how much this book gets you thinking about the world now, while scaring you with this awful-seeming future. Perhaps we're living in dystopia?
There's one part of this book that I thought was very well done. Hiorns has obviously thought things through when it comes to world building. As I said, all my questions have been answered. One question was, if everyone has a carpinomen on their wrist, what about gay people? This is not an LGBTQ novel, but this question is answered too. Gay people can have soul mates of the opposite gender, an asexual anima-vinculum, and live a very close but platonic life together, and sometimes, people have soul mates of the same gender. Well, what if you have a same-sex anima-vinaculum but you are not gay? This is touched on too. It's awesome to have this kind of area looked at, and also to have a dytopia based on relationships where same-sex relationships are a non-issue (well, just as long as you stick to the name on your wrist - but that is an issue with the world they live in).
The Name on Your Wrist is UKYA, but it doesn't feel like it. I've touched on this in reviews before, that UKYA tends to have a feel to it, a certain kind of style. Although The Name on Your Wrist is most definitely a British book, with our wonderful vocabulary, it feels like an American novel. This works for me, because I tend not to really enjoy the "otherness" that I feel when reading some UKYA. So I'm really quite happy about that.
The Name on Your Wrist is an amazing novel, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Hiorns releases next!
Thank you to Corgi Children's Books for the review copy.
Published: 2nd January 2014
Publisher: Corgi Children's Books
Helen Hiorns on Twitter