Bibliophile | The future is grim in Charlie Archibold’s ‘Indigo Owl’

Indigo Owl 
by Charlie Archibold
Wakefield Press

This is Adelaide author Charlie Archibold’s second Young Adult novel and it is set on the futuristic planet of Galbraith. After Earth was destroyed by climate change and overpopulation, only private corporations had the money to colonise new planets and Galbraith was a huge pharmaceutical enterprise.

It is at the pentagon-shaped Arcadia Institute, where older teenagers go for training for their futures, that Scarlet, Dylan and Rumi meet fellow students and explore the possibilities for their futures. Not that there is much room for exploration as everything is tightly controlled and the pyramid of power is strongly in place. Students are put one of four divisions of labour to serve the community.

Those heading to be Cardinals are the future leaders, the Willows are channeled into administration, the Malachites become scientists and the Solitaires use their psychic skills for the betterment of society. Identified by coloured uniforms, placements are found based on these divisions of labour, the successful students becoming probationary citizens and unsuccessful ones are banished.

Pregnancy is strongly controlled, with a one pregnancy per family policy and applications having to be made to approve anyone wanting to become pregnant. Scared of a population explosion, The Galbraith Executive introduced a sterilisation vaccine so they can centrally control the population … but there might be something more sinister happening.

At the same time as Scarlet as is wanting to find out why her mother disappeared years before from her laboratory where she worked on genetics, there is a group of people wanting more transparency in the allocation of pregnancies and the control of fertility.

Excitement builds as the young people search for their destinies and answers myriad questions in a society that is eliminating diversity to create a compliant workforce. People know what they are allowed to know and are continually reminded that the main reason their forebears left Earth, and the reason it became a “toilet of a place”, was because individualism took over.

Indigo Owl is released on September 1st.

Lezly Herbert

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