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Anax, the dedicated student historian at the center of Beckett's brutal dystopian novel, lives far in the future-the distant past events of the 21st century are taught in classrooms. The world of that era, we learn, was ravaged by plague and decay, the legacy of the Last War. Only the island Republic, situated near the bottom of the globe, remained stable and ordered, but at the cost of personal freedom. Anax, hoping her scholarly achievements will gain her entrance to the Academy, which rules her society, has extensively studied Adam Forde, a brilliant and rebellious citizen of the Republic who fought for human dignity in the midst of a regimented, sterile society. To join the Academy's ranks, Anax undergoes a test before three examiners, and as the examination progresses, it becomes clear that her interpretations of Adam's life defy conventional thought and there may be more to Adam-and the Academy-than she had imagined. Though the trappings of Beckett's dystopian society feel perhaps too Brave New World, the rigorous narrative and crushing final twist bring a welcome freshness to a familiar setup. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.