As our homepage states, Red Community is passionate about combating human trafficking in Wales, not least through creativity. Therefore I was buzzin a few weeks ago when I was handed a copy of a book by a friend of mine. It was a novel called DEFIANCE, written by Sarah Jayne Tanner, an up-and-coming author from West Wales.
In all honesty I'm not a big fan of novels, but this is a novel that, I have to confess, really drew me in! It's almost 500 pages long but I finished it in a couple of days as I was so gripped by it. I won't do a full review here, rather I'll just say that I LOVED the way that the author managed to tell a futuristic adventure story in a way that really helps the reader to engage with the issues of exploitation, trafficking and slavery that are very real in our time right now.
Here's the lowdown:
In post apocalyptic London, a young man, Noah, survives in the city’s underbelly, combat fighting in exchange for credits. Betrayed by someone he trusts, he is snatched against his will and taken, forced to cater to the whims of the elite.
Enter into the world of a young man stripped of freedom, fighting the status quo. A relevant novel for today, DEFIANCE tackles issues of social injustice with themes of faith, friendship and survival. Bringing all the excitement and adventure science fiction fans crave － DEFIANCE does not disappoint.
Here's the author's thoughts:
When I first began writing Defiance I didn’t have any specific intentions to highlight issues of human trafficking and slavery. Purposely trying to incorporate an idea, a theme or an issue into my writing has never worked for me, but as I continued to work on the story I realised that the issues of slavery were gradually working themselves into the story and into the lives of the characters. The novel is a young adult dystopian fiction set in the distant future and the story revolves around an impoverished young man who, against his will, is forced to work for a company which specialises in body-switching technology which enables the ridiculously wealthy to take over the bodies of others. As I was writing, I was asking myself questions such as, “If this technology existed, how would people use it? Would they abuse it and, assuming that they did, how would they abuse it?”
In terms of raising awareness, I think that fiction, and especially young adult dystopian fiction, has become an excellent forum to explore difficult social issues. In the genre, I’ve come across books that deal with physical and sexual abuse and assault, with all kinds of mental health issues, dealing with depression, suicide, eating disorders, poverty, war and death, with bullying, with addiction, with oppression and freedom, with questions of identity and more. Human trafficking and slavery are further issues to be addressed within literature. The main character in Defiance faces a number of issues that spring from being taken into slavery but it is communicated in a way that can be handled by a young adult. I believe fiction is a good way of introducing readers, both young and not so young, to difficult topics because it creates a safe space to look at these issues without it becoming overwhelming.
I hope that this book with make people ask questions about what human trafficking is, what the reality of slavery is and why it still exists today. I am hoping that the plight of the characters will make people question how they view people who are victims of slavery and the social issues which can lead to people becoming victims. I also hope that people will ask themselves whether they would be willing to make changes to their own lifestyles and to advocate changes in laws to ensure that slavery is no longer a profitable business.
And here's a few reviews:
“A thought provoking read indeed! Even though the theme is very current, it is a unique piece of work by a unique author who sorely needs to be discovered!!
The sign of a good book for me:
Getting drawn into the story within the first chapter or so - Defiance ticks that box
Liking the main characters - Defiance ticks that box
The story staying with you long after you have finished - Defiance again ticks that box.”
－Lucie Walters, 28 January 2016, Amazon
“I loved, loved, loved this book. It is not my normal style of book but I could not put it down! The main character in this book captivated me from beginning to end, cannot wait for the next instalment from this talented writer.”
－ Tina, 2 November 2015, Goodreads