Imagine, for a moment, a world where the sexes are separated at birth and brought up apart, never knowing the existence of the other sex until after they graduate college, at around age 22. This is the scenario brought to us in Thomas Duffy’s science fiction novel, The Separation. The United States Government has decreed that because of the rising crime rate, high unemployment and massive rate of teenage pregnancies, the economy is suffering immensely. To fix this, all babies will be taken away from their parents at birth and raised separately in “boy States” and “girl States” – never the twain to meet. Finn was taken to a “boy state”, where he was raised by child minders and taught in boy only schools. Finn graduates from Harvard, a mathematical genius and begins his successful career, as he has been groomed to do. The problem is, Finn is not only horrified and disgusted when he learns the truth about the sexes, he cannot accept that this is the way it should be.
The premise behind The Separation is an interesting one and Thomas Duffy explores many aspects of the moral and social dilemmas of what the State has done. His main character Finn is extremely intelligent and, as such, questions the way things are – the status quo. Although the writing is somewhat simplistic at times, the interest is maintained by the many moral questions Finn raises in his mind and then seeks answers to. Finn, as a character is well-developed, but some of the supporting characters came across as rather flat and almost like cardboard cut-outs. The story is very easy to read, as the writing is simple and straightforward, although the dialogue did seem at times to be too simplistic and too clipped to be realistic. All in all, a good premise that has been thoroughly worked by Duffy and an interesting read that raised questions in my mind, as a reader.