Book Review: Archetype by M.D. Waters

Title:  Archetype
Series: Archetype #1
By: M. D. Waters
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publication Date: February 6th 2014
Pages: 284 pages
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Dutton Adult


Introducing a breathtakingly inventive futuristic suspense novel about one woman who rebels against everything she is told to believe.

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

The first novel in a two-part series, Archetype heralds the arrival of a truly memorable character—and the talented author who created her.

I am simply tissue, blood, and bone.
In the beginning of life.

Archetype is a breathtaking new novel set in a dystopian future where woman are a rare commodity, their fertility and youth are a prize possession some will do anything to obtain.

Emma is about to find out what lengths some are willing to go in this exciting new science fiction thriller reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale and The Children of Men by P.D. James. Archetype by M.D. Waters is the first in a two-book adult series set in the near future where both exciting and dangerous technology clashes, fertility is on a dangerous decline, and woman are treated as a commodity to be fought over. Emma dares to rebel against everything she is told to believe, but with no recollection of her past, she must fight a future she is only now remembering. A future that Includes both her husband and her worst enemy-the only problem is she can't remember which one is which.

The moment our heroine Emma wakes up in a hospital with no memory of her past, nor how she ended up there, the book fills you with terrific tension as reality becomes blurred. You get the sense right away something is wrong, something is missing, but what? I was hooked immediately by this story and M.D. Waters writing.

Confused and disoriented, Emma learns that she is the wife of the powerful and seductive Declan Burke. With no memories of her past Emma begins to trust the enigmatic young Declan who surrounds her with love and kindness. Her emotional connection to him builds and Emma finds herself falling in love with him and is excited to build a future with Declan.

"You are my husband, Declan Burke. I am your wife, Emma. We were married in a small ceremony with only our closet friends atop our mountain."
     His smile, after so many weeks of frowns, it warms my heart and brings a flutter to my stomach. He has an amazing smile. When he smiles, his cheeks crease deeply around the corners of full lips.
     This particular smile brings a gleam to the sea in his eyes. "Yes, Emma, that's right. You were absolutely beautiful."
     He reaches forward, carefully, and slides loose strands of my hair behind my ear.  A tingle follows the tail of his fingers across my skin. I want more. Have wanted more than these fleeting touches.

The only problem is-there's a sarcastic, secret voice, "her voice" that keeps troubling Emma, telling her to resist and hints that her frightening dreams are really something more, then Emma begins to dream of another man whose passionate love confuses her. Are these feelings and longings memories or are they something else?  Suddenly, when Emma comes face-to-face with Noah, the man from her dreams, Emma knows she must find out the truth. Danger surrounds her on both sides, both men are keeping secrets from Emma, and both want her at all cost, but why?

I float upright in a tank full of water. The occasional bubble sneaks past me and pops just above my head, but I cannot move my head to follow it.
     I cannot blink.
     I can only float and watch the world around me go on as if I do not exist.

     He sits in a folding chair at an angle to my tub of water, head bent forward, elblows resting on his knees. I cannot see his face. Layers of dark blond waves curl to his chin.

-    The man does not turn around, but lifts his gaze to where I float helplessly in a tank of water I cannot escape. And I want to escape. I need to escape. But he will not let me out.
     He never lets me out.

I'm always on the lookout for new debut adult authors, and I especially love discovering stories with a unique premise, so it is no surprise I was drawn to Archetype with its dystopian setting and a near future where women and fertility are both prized and threatened. With a strong female protagonist, a twisty plot with terrific science fiction elements, and a romance that involves two men form Emma's past, I couldn't help but be intrigued by Archetype. The story is told from Emma's point of view with the addition of an interesting, sarcastic voice that Emma hears. Know only as "her voice" it propels the story and mystery forward. A fascinating story that unfolds and goes beyond betrayal, love, and rebellion.

At first glance, the story seems similar to the well worked formulas of memory loss, dystopian society, event the love triangle, but in this case it works well. The reader is immediately drawn to the possibility of this near future world. Emma is a strong female protagonist who fights to regain her sense of freedom and memories. Archetype deftly teases out the readers feelings at the appropriate moment, confusion, trust, love, passion and ultimately betrayal at the right moment. Archetype took these familiar tropes and made it its own. I would have liked more explanation on the actual world-building in Archetype, but this is largely a character driven plot with just enough background to give the setting its dystopian feel. The tension begins to mount as more and more memories/dreams are revealed to Emma and suspicions runs high.

Emma begins the story distant and removed, as if she is experience everything for the first time, and in a sense she is. I was worried about connecting to her, but this rapidly vanished as the story moves forward and Emma and "her voice" begin to uncover the mystery of her past, and how both Declan and Noah fit in it.  She does not remain gullible long and Archetype throws some lovely kick-butt action our way, and you'll be surprised who is on the receiving end of it.

This is an adult book and part of Dutton's adult Spring line-up. The romance is an adult romance, there is not a fade away and curtains being drawn like your typical young adult. Our heroine Emma is a young, twenty-something woman, and believes she is married. She's passionate and the romance is too. Yes, there's two men involved and a possible love-triangle, but Archetype executes the romance well, so I had no problem with it in the storyline.

This addicting read kept me glued to it's pages, not much else got done until I reached that last breathtaking page and then M.D. Waters delivers a cliffhanger that left me wanting more. The good news is the second installment of the story, Prototype, is due out this July and I have little wait time. I can't wait for the conclusion to this series and I'm keeping my eye on M. D. Waters and her future reads.

Recommended for Adult readers looking for a strong females protagonist, a character driven plot with a dystiopian setting and unique premise with a thrilling and passionate romance.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars. I really liked it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Dutton Adult via NetGalley in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Dutton Adult for the review opportunity!