Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The idea of a society where people are so afraid of being hurt and so protective of their children that they chain them isn't that big a stretch: pretty much everyone living in NYC has seen a pod of children holding on to a "leash", being walked by a nursery school aide or teacher. And our society is definitely heading in the direction of wiping out all germs, all diseases and anything that could possibly injure people (it's also heading in the direction of It's Not My Fault I Got Hurt and Who Needs Common Sense When You Can Sue).
The city of Jewel is there waaaay before us, and while it's not explicit, all individuality seems to have also been stripped away. Non-compliant children are put in punishment chains, or taken into Care, while non-compliant adults are put in the House of Repentance. Ruling over all this are two semi-dictatorial people, the Protector and the Flugleman (who happen to be brother and sister). It's never made clear what the Flugleman flugles, or how this power structure emerged, and perhaps that's for another book.
As each ill thing has been eradicated, the Museum of Dunt (perhaps a corruption of "don't"?) seems to have taken it in - there are shifting walls, rooms of oddities, rooms that clearly should be rooms in our sense of the word - all looked after by Keepers. Our heroine, Goldie, runs away on the aborted Day of Separation and finds herself in the Museum, learning its secrets and realizing that being an individual is, well, not always a bad thing.
Because this is part of a trilogy, there's a lot of exposition that could be done without (the whole finger-talking chapter, for example). One volume, tightly edited, would have given this a 4-5 rating.
ARC provided by publisher.
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