Geekscribe, Nov. 21, 2010
I just finished The Facility by Michael Mirolla, an awesome though strange head trip of a book. I was given it in exchange for an unbiased review. I found it to be rather difficult to get involved with, at least for the first hundred pages or so. But then, something crazy happened… I couldn’t put it down. I found myself thinking about it at work, and staying up later so I could drink from its pages.
Here is a brief synopsis. It’s quite a complicated book. I will try and only set the stage for you, because I really think you should put this book on a must-read list.
The Facility is about a boy, Fausto, who is taken to a cloning facility by his grandfather. It’s called a petting zoo because all the animals there are tame and docile. You can walk up to a tiger or a snow leopard and pet it, and a crocodile won’t eat you. Every type of animal you could ever think of is being cloned within the walls of the facility, because outside they are all dying.
Somehow, the grandfather (as Fausto calls him) has become involved with this super secret facility. The book never explains why or how. He takes Fausto to the Facility on the condition that he tell no one. Not even his parents.
The grandfather fought against Mussolini when he was much younger, and was part of the group of Italian partisans who captured and executed the dictator. The Grandfather took some genetic material from Mussolini as a prize.
Many years later, The Grandfather donates some of this genetic material, and a new Mussolini is birthed from the cloning tanks. The new Mussolini (or The Mussolini as Fausto calls him), knows nothing of the terrible atrocities that the original committed upon the earth. He is an empty shell. And so The Grandfather sets about educating him so that he can become Mussolini.
The Facility has rooms where you can sit and see movies about everything that occurred in history. The grandfather fills The Mussolini with the knowledge of all his deeds.
When he believes that The Mussolini is as close as he can be to the original, he brings Fausto into the room. The Grandfather shoves a gun against The Mussolini’s head and pulls the trigger. The Mussolini’s head explodes, and his body falls to the floor where it is almost instantly eaten by mechanical scavengers.
Fast forward 15 years. The Grandfather has died, after making Fausto promise him to finish “what has been set in motion.” He has to return to the Facility.
Unfortunately, when Fausto does make his way back, he finds himself trapped within. As he explores the Facility, he realizes that another Mussolini has been birthed from the cloning tanks. And the Mussolini isn’t the only person being cloned…
Hopefully that will whet your appetite for more. As I said, it’s an extremely interesting book. I felt it was well worth the investment in time I made. Even now, the last few pages stick in my head.
There a couple of minor issues I felt detracted from the whole. One is that several players and events could have been a little more fleshed out. The second is that many of the characters shift in how they react to each other in a matter I found distracting. For example, in one section, people get along, and then in the next, they hate each other.
Here is the rating I gave the book. After the rating, there are some spoilers, so don’t read any farther unless you have already read the book.
Total Rating: ★★★★☆
Don’t read the very next few sentences! There are spoilers! Ok, so what I didn’t get fully was why the Facility operated in the fashion it did. Why did it take the real Fausto with it? Were there other people left on the planet at the end? Clearly the aliens or the facility had certain monetary limitations… one of the shadow characters explained that the experiment was over budget. How did the Grandfather get involved with the whole thing? How did he end up getting cloned? Maybe I missed these pieces. However, these minor issues aside, I really enjoyed the book. I found it to be a fascinating, though-provoking novel. If you like quirky, mind bending books, this one is for you!
Publishers Weekly, October 2010
Canadian poet and author Mirolla (Berlin) mixes theology, cloning, and Beckettlike absurdist alienation in this odd novel. In the near future, disease wiped out almost all nonhuman life larger than insects. A few cloned specimens live on in a superscience terrarium, which Fausto Contadino visited as a child in 2025 and where he becomes trapped as an adult many years later. Like his namesake, Fausto is offered power over life and romance with the woman created just for him, and is preoccupied with the ideas of happiness in the moment versus the passing of time. Mirolla's fractured narrative, switching among the first- and third-person perspectives of multiple Faustos, parallels the division between mind and body, between technology and nature, and between what we can do and what we should do.
$15.95 / LeapLit
264 Pages 6 x 9
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