Alia Tero: The Many Lives of Darren Datita by Lull Mengesha and Scott Spotson, 424 pages, February 8th, 2017, Genre: Humorous/Coming-of-Age. Warning: May Contain Spoilers!
Recently, I took a course on generational differences. As part of the course, I interviewed three Millennials. I gained a new perspective; one contrary to how Millennials are typically portrayed. They aren’t naïve, they’re idealistic. They unapologetically stand for what they believe in. They switch jobs when they believe a new job can give them more useful skills. Millennials aren’t lazy; they’re turning away from the highly competitive world created by the Boomers towards their dream of a society where equality can be attained for all. Far from being fragile snowflakes, Millennials envision a world where cooperation trumps competition, where each person’s contributions are valued rather than compared and belittled, where multi-culturalism and diversity are celebrated. They aren’t inattentive and disconnected; they know that ideas shape society and the battlefield for hearts and minds is in cyberspace. They fight for the future on that modern battlefield, connected continuously to various social media. Technology use comes as naturally to them as breathing.
Alia Tero is an alternate Earth where the utopian vision of Millennials has been combined with libertarian political ideals. It’s a world with no government. Since power corrupts absolutely, any government would become a corrupt government. No government, no corruption. Each citizen receives the same salary and living arrangements, regardless of their role in society. Familial roles, professions, and cities of residence are changed every four months for everyone simultaneously, called “rotations”. Even children rotate to new parental figures because “It takes a village to raise a child.” Messages received on smart phones direct society, along with “Life Card” tracking chips inserted inside each citizen at birth. Much like modern social media, each citizen can “like” other citizens, awarding them points on their Life Cards, earning them status and rewards.
We follow Darren Datita from his last year of high school through his early twenties. Darren is an “everyman”, likeable and relatable. Drilled into the heads of Alia Tero’s children in school, the concept of perfect equality for all seems noble to Darren, hardly worth questioning. But as Darren moves through his rotations, he learns through experience that this utopia isn’t “perfect”. Humans being what we are, children still bully and exclude those who “drag the collective down” and adults are willing to cheat to gain “likes” and points. People who award more points get more attention from those in need of points. If a person hates a job or a city, they’re stuck for the rotation, having no freedom to abandon either. Marriage and monogamy are considered detrimental to society. Parents don’t raise or even see their own kids. By the conclusion of the book, Darren isn’t the only one who sees the flaws in Alia Tero’s society.
Many of the situations Darren finds himself in are humorous and satirize modern society. The writing style is fresh and engaging. The characters are very human. Much of the exposition in the introduction could have been incorporated into the body of the book and what remained could have been condensed. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to experiencing more of Lull Mengesha’s work in the future.
You can find this book on Amazon at Alia Tero.