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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  10,606 ratings  ·  1,714 reviews
Anax thinks she knows history. Her grueling all-day Examination has just begun, and if she passes, she’ll be admitted into the Academy—the elite governing institution of her utopian society. But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she’s been taught isn’t the whole story. And the Academy isn’t what she believes it to be. In this brilliant novel ...more
Hardcover, 150 pages
Published April 20th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2006)
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Ricardo Walker An intriguing and disturbing book, in a good way!

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3.87  · 
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 ·  10,606 ratings  ·  1,714 reviews

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5.0 stars. Okay folks, this is a must read alert. I was expecting this to be decent but I was blown away by how excellent it turned out to be. Focused, powerful and imaginative. This one is a keeper.

As many others have said (but it is certainly worth repeating) this should not be considered a YA novel. Yes, the protagonist is a teenage girl, but that is the only YA connection to this story. This has much more in common with 1984 than Harry Potter.

This is a superbly realized and eerily believa
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dystopian lovers, Those who just don't quite have the attention span for 1984, yet.
Kindle edition is on sale for about $5 HERE!!

This is what I call an "experience" book.

You may not find yourself inside the world like in an "escapism" story, instead you feel as if your viewing it from the outside. It's intent is to help you reflect upon and experience your own life, not necessarily that of the characters. Another more well-known example of this type of book would be 1984.

You breath on your own instead of with the characters. You are able to see the story more objectively, with
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nataliya by: Jim
Shelves: 2012-reads
I was getting smug thinking I figured out where this book was taking me. And then last few pages came, and I all I was able to say was, "Heh. Ummm. Okay. Well, then. Heh." I know, my eloquence is astounding.

"The only thing binding individuals together is ideas. Ideas mutate, and spread; they change their hosts as much as their hosts change them."
Normally I don't care much for spoilers. I can even pompously say that it's the journey I care about, not the destination. (Believe it or not, in the
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

*drinks a tenth cup of coffee*

God, being sleep-deprived is so very much like being drunk, without the laugh. I hate it. ANYWAY. Reading Genesis must have worn my few remaining energy cells out, because I have a hard time typing on my keyboard. What the hell?! I'd better go to the point. Here's how it went :

[fast backward of the hologram]

The EXAMINER studies me carefully during an indefinite length of time. As I was warned during my training, his features don't betray any emotion and -

Megs ♥
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Megs ♥ by: Jency

Well, this must be my lucky week. Reading two 5-star books one after another is not something that often happens to me. Of course, I love reading 5-star books, but the problem I have is reviewing them, because I always feel like what I say is not going to do the fantastic books justice.

Genesis was recommended to me about a week ago from a friend on Goodreads. I actually had never even heard of it until then. Usually when a friend recommends a book it takes me a few months to get to it. My friend
L A i N E Y
"Today she would assume nothing"

Such a brilliant mindset for the readers of Genesis to be in!

Clever and philosophical, original and imaginative. But be warned my friends: it's suprer dense and as I'm writing this, I'm full of trepidation it has put me in a slump. Well let us hope not!

This is basically reading a history book which consists of almost only info dump, and yet... I enjoyed this. Maybe because the story is, often than not, peppered throughout with philosophical thoughts and cautious
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who thinks they will like it, based on trusted reviews
Recommended to Jim by: Multiple Goodreaders
June 23, 2012

I strongly recommend Mel's beautiful and moving review of this book. We both loved it, and tried really hard to explain why without spoiling the story.

There are many other exceptional reviews from friends and others, and I would never have known about it without their guidance. My thanks to all.

June 19, 2012
(Pre-review) - Thanks so much to all who supported and commented on this (now slightly edited) lead-in! My full review follows this section.

I absolutely loved it. Plopped it stra
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I agree with my fellow Goodreader, Genesis has no business being marketed as a YA dystopia. It should have been published by Subterranean Press or Night Shade along with Ted Chiang's and Paolo Bacigalupi's works to find its most welcoming audience.

The setting of the novel is indeed dystopian and the main character is a teen, but other than that Genesis has little to do with YA dystopian genre. It is a novel of ideas, philosophical even. Its main focus is the genesis of consciousness in AI (artif
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to carol. by: Mimi
I present for your consideration this 150 page work by Bernard Beckett. While we might expect a story framed as a four-hour thesis presentation would be dry, the use of historical reinactments as well as the integration of personal memories and thoughts of Anax, the lead charcter, give it an unexpected liveliness. Thus, though it occasionally has the feel of a Socratic dialogue, it is a surprisingly quick read.

Anax is applying to The Academy, and her thesis project is on Adam Forde, one of the k
Elizabeth Sagan
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mindblowing
A short brilliant novel that I’ve finished in one evening. Opinions are divided on this one – I know people who didn’t like it. As for me, I loved it. Almost all of it is perfectly written dialogue – basically this character, Anaximander, participates in an auditory entrance exam, hoping to get into the Academy. Through all the questions and answers we learn about this dystopian/utopian world (you decide), that is supposed to be our own future world.
You know that moment when you’re completely l
Emily May
EDIT: Read again and loved it even more, upping my rating to 4 stars.

Old Review

Ok, so 3.5 stars actually. Maybe 4 but I've decided to be picky.

I was greatly torn as to my opinion on this book, it's a very confusing and weird read at times and not even remotely what I expected when I read the description.

The novel consists entirely of a 4-hour oral exam on a specialist subject of
Steph Sinclair

I don't even know how to begin reviewing this book. I fear that anything I describe about the book has the potential to ruin it for anyone reading this reviews. And to do that would be a huge disservice to this book. Because believe me when I say it was truly remarkable.

There are three things I believe I am safe to say. (1) The main character's name is Anax. (2) The book is basically her interview with a panel for acceptance into The Academy. (3) It is a dystopian type book. (4) It's not a long
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dystopia is the new cool kid on the block of young adult genre literature. Readers of this genre are familiar with the storylines and themes: teenagers struggling to survive in a scary society that sets kids against each other for entertainment; a creepy society sets kids against each other in order to determine the characters' roles and jobs in the world; the collapse of society by disease, zombies, or natural disaster and the survival during the anarchy of the collapsed society. Genesis is not ...more
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own-read, own
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea.

Wow... I did not see that ending coming. Mind. blowing.

Well damn, this book sure as hell took me by surprise. After Pines I wanted to pick up something relaxing and easy to read. Well, let me tell you, this book wasn't quite as easy to read as I thought it would be.

It says here that this is a YA book, but it didn't feel like one. The book reminded me little of a modern version
Timothy Urges
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The marvelous brain, that devious little fight-or-flight, fuck-or-feed device, which you like to think is the measure of the hominid. You’re so proud of that, aren’t you? And you should be. Without your brain, there would be no language, and without language, we would never have seen the third phase of evolution.

1% of participants are accepted into The Academy. Anaximander desires to belong to the 1%. The Academy requires you to pass an exam in order to enter.

The examination takes place in a p
Jonathan Terrington
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jonathan by: Stephen

What on Earth did I just read? Was that a speech or a novel? Was that a YA book or one written for adults? Was the character... Well no I can't give that away for prospective readers. This is a book that has to be read without anything spoiling the plot (I will still provide a non-spoiling summary). What I will say is that if you've read Planet of the Apes before then read this. This novel is something of a YA version of that with a bit of a twist.

Genesis is not written in the usual form of othe
The sad thing is that I’ve actually had this on my wishlist at the library for over a year! Thank goodness for the fabulous reviewers on Goodreads for convincing me to finally go ahead with it. This is a short, tense story filled with intellectual debate and philosophy and I really enjoyed it.

It opens with Anax, a young girl who has chosen to sit the examination for The Academy. She has selected Adam Forde as her subject, and must now survive rigorous questioning about his life and history, thes
Sarah Miller
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
First of all, let me just say how excited I was to read this book... ultimately it was just a big, fat disappointment. The book description (a post-apocalyptic, plague ridden world, an elite Academy who interviews young applicants to maintain a crime-free society) is simple fodder for a short book that is simply packed with forced, philosophical debate about consciousness and individuality.

As the main character started her interview, I hoped it would start getting into the "good" stuff. But rea
Kat Kennedy
Review to come once Kat figures out the statistical probability of her reading TWO five-star books in a row.
This is the best post-apocalyptic novel I've read since The Road. I started reading it the moment it arrived in my mailbox and was not able to put it down until I'd finished it. It's an intensely cerebral and philosophical read for a young adult novel. And just when I thought I'd discovered the secret of the book, I was completely caught off-guard by the true secret.

A girl named Anax has been given the chance to take a 4-hour oral exam to interview for entrance into The Academy. The book is the
Mel (who is deeply in love with herself)
First of all, I'd like to draw your attentions to Jim's fantastic review of this book. It's well worth a look, I assure you; especially since he has included some of the more beautiful quotes from the book (something I was too scared to do myself!). Both of us read the book at roughly the same time, and enjoyed it immensely. Now, let's move onto the actual review.


This must have been the easiest five stars I’ve ever given a book. And that includes Stephen King’s works of genius, too.
Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea. ~Genesis

In the end, living is defined by dying~Genesis

Wow, wow and more wow! I have been swept away and truly humbled by this little book that's filled with such big ideas. The blurb on my edition calls it "sinewy" and "cerebral" and for me, that hits it just right.

I want to start by first giving a shout out to Stephen; his unbridled enthusiasm for this book is what brought i
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Flannery by: Lyndsey
Labeling this book as YA does it a complete disservice. My brain hurts from the workout.
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
All I have to say is basically one long whistle of amazement, but since that can't be communicated in a textual medium I'll try to explain a little bit. Short review, for a short book, though.

I thought I had it figured out. I've read a lot of dystopia and I know the patterns by now, and I saw a few of them here so I assumed that I understood how it would end. Wrong. This book is abnormal, and in being so it is also extraordinary and shocking and wierd and fascinating and powerful. The question i
Meredith Holley
Dec 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Erica
Recommended to Meredith by: Flannery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lubinka Dimitrova
Beckett has written a very different young adult novel, exhibiting a kind of purity unusual in most young adult fiction, deep and complex under the guise of its ostensible simplicity. Although I never truly connected with any characters from the story and there are, in fact, times when Genesis feels a bit like witnessing a philosophical diatribe, this also gave Beckett the opportunity to present his ideas with admirable economy. "Human spirit," he says, "is the ability to face the uncertainty of ...more
Have to admit, after reading the description and reviews, I was expecting much more of a book than this little novella, really, not much more than a glorified short story. The post-apoc setting was pretty well constructed, but anyone well read in the genre will be able to figure out the twists of this particular story. Lots of philosophical sophistry between the human and the AI, an ok way to spend a couple of hours.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
What if there's an unstoppable outbreak spreading all across the world, wiping out whole populations, and the only area left unaffected is an island closed off from any contact with the mainland?

This is the state of the world in Genesis.

Guards on the island have been instructed to terminate on site anything they see floating on the water. If they hesitate, they are also terminated. The people on the island construct for themselves a Sparta-like dystopian society and government called The Republi
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jill by: Megs ♥
3.5 stars

Occasionally it's good to step outside your preferred genre and read something different. Genesis, while not actually entertaining, is certainly interesting. On the surface the book is a bit dry, as the story unfolds as an interview. Set in the future, the main character Anaximander is being interviewed for a place at The Academy. The book is heavy on philosophy, the history of this world, the meaning of life and humanity.

I liked it, though didn't love it. I found it appealing but not e
Ben Babcock
I love it when a book leaves me feeling so deeply ambivalent. I mean, I would prefer it if I could just outright love Genesis, no ambivalence necessary. But I would rather ambivalence than apathy. Bernard Beckett has clearly put a lot of effort into crafting this deep, philosophical dialogue. It’s a beautifully constructed piece of literature.

But I also didn’t really like it that much.

Anaximander, or Anax as she is called, is taking her Exam for entrance into the Academy, the school/university/r
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Young Adult at Heart: Genesis (December 2015) 2 11 Dec 31, 2015 08:31AM  
Future Wastelands: June 2014 - Genesis 1 18 May 31, 2014 02:27PM  
Young Adult Book ...: Final Thoughts on Genesis 24 124 Mar 30, 2013 05:11PM  
Young Adult Book ...: Artifical Intelligence 9 47 Mar 24, 2013 09:23AM  
Young Adult Book ...: Initial Thoughts on Genesis 18 68 Mar 24, 2013 09:23AM  
Young Adult Book ...: What is it to be human? 2 34 Mar 03, 2013 10:38PM  

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Bernard Beckett, born in 1967, is a high school teacher based in Wellington, New Zealand, where he teaches drama, mathematics, and English. Genesis was written while he was in a Royal Society genetics research fellowship investigating DNA mutations. The book has already received international acclaim, including two literary prizes in Beckett's native New Zealand. Rights to Genesis have been sold i ...more
“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear, and superstition. By the year 2050, when the conflict began, the world had fallen upon fearful, superstitious times.” 126 likes
“I am not a machine. For what can a machine know of the smell of wet grass in the morning, or the sound of a crying baby? I am the feeling of the warm sun against my skin; I am the sensation of a cool wave breaking over me. I am the places I have never seen, yet imagine when my eyes are closed. I am the taste of another's breath, the color of her hair.
You mock me for the shortness of my life span, but it is this very fear of dying which breathes life into me. I am the thinker who thinks of thought. I am curiosity, I am reason, I am love, and I am hatred. I am indifference. I am the son of a father, who in turn was a father’s son. I am the reason my mother laughed and the reason my mother cried. I am wonder and I am wondrous. Yes, the world may push your buttons as it passes through your circuitry. But the world does not pass through me. It lingers. I am in it and it is in me. I am the means by which the universe has come to know itself. I am the thing no machine can ever make. I am meaning.”
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