Is happiness a universal concept? People, who had survived the near-apocalyptic experience – the Merge – seem to believe that it is. What if life after a disastrous event that almost shattered the world into pieces would not be doomed to the dim, grey picture we are used to believe it would? What if people learn from their mistakes and decide to build a whole new world full of pleasure, easiness, and happiness for all?
Tauria, aged 32, lives in such a world. It is designed to make everyone feel happy every minute of their lives. Work brings satisfaction, hobbies are encouraged, relationships are supposed to bring out only positive emotions. Does it matter that things that do not fit into the general happy pattern get discarded and disappear? Things like friendship and commitment. Things like true love. Is it enough with lightness and never-ending joy?
The apocalyptic event that had changed the world forever, had done more than that. There are two worlds now, forced to exist side by side. Can they find a way to live together?
“Neglected Merge” is a fascinating novel, with a thought-provoking and original plot, outstanding characters, and amazing writing. The protagonist, Tauria, lives in a dystopian society, which has undergone a disastrous, apocalyptic event, whereby the society that has emerged is divided essentially into three sections. First, there is an underground, dissatisfied element that lurks in the outskirts of the known world, that the vast majority of the “wingless” human society (the second section) is blissfully unaware of. Third, separated from the wingless are the winged: a human-like race, who enjoy long lifespans, a very austere and orderly existence, and a reluctance to engage with the wingless folk. The wingless are as equally hesitant to engage with the winged, and have created a world for themselves that is almost perfect, in that people are allowed to pursue meaningful work, casual friendships and relationships, and everything in life is designed with leisure and enjoyment in mind. Marriage is typically considered redundant, even outlawed, and while the family unit has become somewhat obsolete, it has seemingly permitted great societal freedoms, and happiness. The pursuit of individual pleasures, without what is considered to be burdensome entanglements, has become the societal norm. This makes for an easy, if somewhat bland, predictable, and potentially unstimulating life.
Tauria is an inhabitant of the second section. Unsurprising, the ebullient Tauria finds life pleasant, but ultimately unfulfilling, though she cannot initially pinpoint what is the cause of the lack of fulfilment and listlessness she feels. Then, a random meeting brings a member of the winged ones, named Doron, into her orbit, and everything changes.
Romance is central to the book, and it is exceptionally well-executed. There are unexpected liaisons, surprise relationships, and passionate encounters that fans of the genre will adore. On the dystopian fantasy side, along with the excellent world-building, the political intrigue, and negotiations that take place between different elements of society, are extremely compelling. It feels like one has a coveted, bird’s eye view, eavesdropping on high level diplomatic meetings at the modern-day United Nations. Tauria is central to all that occurs, and it is her courage, empathy, ability to connect with others, and passion for life and who she loves, that will make the reader love her in turn. Koguce has made her vivacious main character one full of high intellect, guts, and beauty, that will easily make the reader root for Tauria. Readers will keep anxiously turning the pages to discover if Tauria’s unique abilities are enough to give her, and the world, the kind of life it deserves. Will she be able to help bring together factions that fear and mistrust one another, to forge a better world for everyone concerned? Tauria is surrounded by a very interesting cast of secondary characters, such as the mentor, Alfred, Tauria’s good friend Byrne, and all the winged ones, such as Duxe, Ferrus, Abelia, Tauria’s love interest, Doron, and many more. Koguce has successfully crafted engaging auxiliary players to the main plot of Tauria and Doron’s love affair, that will give the readers other personas to ponder about with respect to motivations, desires, and whose side these players are really on.
I have read very few authors who have been so adeptly able to illuminate the feelings and thoughts of their characters. Koguce has a way of expressing emotions that draw the reader into the character’s head. I have learned Koguce has a background as a poet, so I am not surprised that her prose is so fluid, so captivating, that she has spent time spinning rhythmic lines of shorter length, prior to penning her novel. Koguce’s linguistic style in some passages of the book is similar to poetic diction, and it provides an air of almost mysticism to the book that I found enchanting. It certainly lends itself to both the components of romance, and of the epic side of the book, where worlds hang in the balance of primarily Tauria’s actions. I simply loved Koguce’s writing style, and this is a book I will likely find myself re-reading, just to hear her lovely, distinct writing voice come through the pages once more.
“Neglected Merge” written by Eve Koguce, is a highly engaging dystopian romance-fantasy thriller that I absolutely loved! I can’t wait for the next book by this exciting author, and I will surely be reading the next novel she writes!!!