Natasha House’s Citizen introduces us to a dark future where humanity has been conquered and enslaved for the past millenia and a half by an alien race of blue-skinned bat-winged creatures called the Citizens. Those who live in the wilds must hide their existence against periodic hunts for more human slaves. Citizen begins when one defiant human from the wilds is sold to the daughter of Jael, the most ruthless Citizen ruler on Earth. This human, Lend, finds himself in a strange world where Citizen rule humans with contempt, killing and hurting them at the slightest whim or displeasure, stripping them of all dignity and identity, even forbidding them to mate, marry and bear children.
At its heart, Citizen is a love story with plenty of twists and turns and adventure to keep the reader engaged. It also features a lot of family intrigue and drama amongst the house of Jael. The alien culture House paints is very interesting and serves to remind us that slavery, abortion [for all offspring of humans, whether fully human or Halfsie are to be destroyed by law] and prohibitions against “inter-racial” marriage are just plain wrong.
House’s characters are delightfully complicated and interesting. She features several strong protagonists: the human Lend, Jael’s often haughty Lila, Jael himself [whom I would have liked to have seen more of] and, of course, Morthane, who quite simply steals the show.
As a Biblicist, I was initially concerned about the alien element of Citizen. Sapient aliens are theologically problematic [Superman is a bigger threat to Christian orthodoxy than Harry Potter ever was], for if all creation fell in Adam and all mankind can find salvation through Christ because he was fully God and fully man, sapient aliens would be effected by Adam’s Fall but have no means of salvation. This would seem to impugn on God’s justice. In the case of House’s Citizen, I noted that the aliens and humans are able to interbreed. The Bible notes that all creations multiply after their kind; biology likewise confirms that any creatures which may interbreed successfully are related genetically. That being the case, if such creatures did exist, we might suggest that they were Homo sapiens citizens. How did they come from space then? My theory, given their undeniable biological relation to us, I suggest that these Citizens are merely humans from the future. I came upon this theory because one of the humans ends up having his DNA rewritten to have powers and abilities nearly identical to the Citizens. In essence, this genetic manipulation could continue and be combined with true pantropy to eventually create the Citizens who somehow come back to Earth’s earlier history to subjugate us [without either of us knowing we are related]. Of course, House may’ve simply come up with true aliens who are somehow able to interbreed with us which is just biologically and theologically prohibitive.
House’s references to Christianity are muted. She ventures into personal Biblical theism, but Jesus Christ is never referenced except in her Acknowledgements. Still, her allusions to Exodus and Joshua are very clear. Likewise, her premise that prayer, faith and love can change unjust laws and bring about reform and deliverance are at the heart of the Gospel message.
While House handles the sexual references in a most modest fashion, parents should be aware that the book contains quite a few references to promiscuous extramarital behavior. Mating is a pervasive subject in the book, though a necessary one due to the subject matter and the plot. Again, these references are never descriptive or graphic.
My only real complaint about the book is that the end could have been less hurried. I was really looking forward to an epilogue featuring Jael. He’s the type of villain I’ve always thought should have the last word and expects no less!
All-in-all, Citizen was an entertaining and thought-provoking book which certainly held my interest. I ended up dropping my other review projects and finished it in a couple days.
From the Bookwyrm’s Lair
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”