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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Among the plethora of dystopian fiction titles out there, the unique premise of Selfsame by Eden Wolfe stirs darkness and apprehension in one’s psyche. Part of the plot relates to men dying off as the result of a devastating war. Aria is an eighteen-year-old girl who inhabits the underworld known as Lower Earth. As the narrative shifts to different POVs, it reveals that Aria is supposed to inherit the throne, but the incumbent queen, Maeve, has no reservations about shedding blood just to ensure that she remains queen—including the blood of her own daughter. Aria has a dark past that keeps her from reigning as the rightful queen and this doesn’t sit well with people. Yet Aria’s solid lineage from a line of settler queens validates her claim to the throne. But her years of preparation to take over will be ultimately put to the test as she becomes a fugitive.
There is much to be said about the plot of Selfsame in its effective use of what Alfred Hitchcock calls a MacGuffin: an object or event that becomes the driving force of the plot and motivation for characters. The decreasing population of men and the possibility of replacing a tyrant queen are the MacGuffins used in this story, inspiring all the tension and action. The story slowly reveals to us why men are dying and how Aria can change a totalitarian system if she assumes the throne. Eden Wolfe uses her MacGuffins logically to show how the future may deteriorate and lose hold on a sense of justice. I admired the storyline because it hinges on the ideas of struggle and determination. The events are crucial and the characters themselves, who act according to their respective agendas, make the whole scenario even more compelling. Wolfe fulfills the promise of a dystopian tale that appeals to your senses, and I highly recommend this for your reading list.