Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale
Random House, 2009. ISBN 9781741662979.
Recommended. Growing up in a community where strict rules restrict the behaviour, clothing and ideas of the population causes some angst amongst the teenagers. Shaving their hair every month incites several to rebel against this draconian law, in place to make sure everyone is equal. But the reason for enforced equality is at the heart of this wonderful dystopian novel, where a population is sheltered under a dome over an island in the South Pacific. For their own survival, global warming having decimated the rest of the world, this group of people has developed a strict code by which they live.
With every aspect of life regulated on the basis that it is necessary for survival, the younger members seek answers to their questions, resulting in an undermining of the order which rules their lives. The ideas of public good, social experimentation, future of society, environmental damage and the people's right to know are all explored in this powerful tome.
Beale's character are presented sympathetically, even the ones in power are understandable, as they strive to retain the cohesion of the group. Chapters are short and the plot moves quickly. The wonderful addition of inserts shows the reader what the general community is feeling adding to the tension building up between Juno and her friends and those in charge. The need to know what is Outside causes change and grief.
This is a blindingly good read, bringing in all aspects of dystopian fiction, adding to the range of fiction now available for our students to read. It would make a stunning class text with a class willing to let themselves go into this world created so ably by Beale, and see the possible futures for Juno and her community as well as themselves.