Today I have an exclusive extract of We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. First a little about the book:
Title: We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett
Publisher: Marotte Books
Date Published: 6th May 2021
Genre: YA Dystopian
A timely and heart-wrenching love story set in a dark dystopian world with echoes of Never Let Me Go and adult as well as teen appeal.
Arthur is dying. He must transition within the next four weeks or face permanent memory loss.
Alba is studying, preparing to impress the Mentors in an all-important interview. If she’s picked as the next Apprentice she will be reunited with her best friend and
cross the Wilderness for the first time.
They meet and everything comes together.
And everything falls apart.
‘I love reading Sarah Govett’ Dame Emma Thompson
‘This is a hugely original dystopian novel with a thrilling plot and memorable characters you really root for.
Thought-provoking and at times terrifying, this book had me gripped from the start.’ Sarah J Harris (author of Richard and Judy Book Club pick The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder)
‘One of the most intriguing and exciting dystopian thrillers I have read in a long time! This book grabs you from page one and holds on until the last word. A fascinating world filled with beautifully written characters.’ Ben Oliver, author of The Loop
‘Addictive and compelling – I absolutely love this book.‘ Louisa Reid, author of Wrecked and Gloves Off
Praise for Sarah’s previous dystopian trilogy – The Territory: Winner of the Gateshead Teen Book Award 2017 and the Trinity Schools Book Award 2018
‘The 1984 of our time’ Guardian Children’s Books ‘Thrilling and Thoughtful’ The Times
The Territory has been optioned for TV by New Pictures (producers of BBC’s The Missing and Netflix’s The Innocents and Catherine the Great). The pilot is currently being written by Freddy Syborn (Ms Marvel, Disney +).
You can buy your copy here:
Direct from publisher: (You can get it signed with free delivery! UK ONLY): https://marottebooks.bigcartel.com/product/we-go-on-forever
The sky is a rich Matisse-blue and I tilt up my chin to catch the midday sun. I’ve always found September sun to be the most precious – summer’s imminent departure adding an immeasurable sweetness. It’s a day for picnics. For lounging in short sleeves. Not for doctors’ surgeries. Not for results.
A voice calls my name, and I turn away from the open window, back to the reception. For a second I catch my reflection in the gilded mirror that hangs above the desk and I scrutinise my face as a stranger might. Symmetrical, unlined. I haven’t noticed it age in the last two years. The stranger would most likely guess it to be some years younger than the nineteen it is now.
Dr Peters’ secretary ushers me through to his office. I decline her offer of refreshments.
The MRI results are displayed on a screen in the centre of the room, awaiting my arrival. Twelve cross-sections through my brain. A four by three grid. There – second from the top in the middle – a white circle lurks in the right hemisphere. A UFO sighting in an otherwise foggy skyline. I shut the door behind me and Dr Peters plasters on the special sort of smile he reserves for patients holding Level One insurance policies. I sit and the smile widens even further in recognition of my status.
As heir to the M.A.D.E. conglomerate, I get to see a lot of teeth.
Dr Peters embarks upon small talk, a tapestry of medical and societal aspects interwoven. How am I feeling? How is my father? Are the headaches worsening? Did I manage much sailing over the summer? Did I try this great new seafood place? He’ll give me the name of the owner – another patient of his; it’s hellish to get a table otherwise. And the balance problems?
‘How long?’ I ask, cutting him short. I need the facts. I’m meeting Tommy for tennis at two and I don’t want to be late for the second time running. I might not be at the top of my game but I can still manage to hit a ball.
‘Four to six weeks,’ Dr Peters replies, his smile taking on a frozen quality. I think of icebergs and the Norwegian Fjords.
I sit and try to absorb the information.
Dr Peters picks up a long, thin stick and starts pointing at the screen, punctuating each comment with a sharp staccato rap. The ingratiating smile is gone and he seems more natural, calmer; happier hiding behind a medical lexicon of obfuscation.
‘The results of the biopsy show the tumour to be malignant. The MRI cross-sections here RAP! and here RAP!, show it to be present in the cerebellum, hence the balance control issues. The size indicates a grade 3 tumour, meaning growth is rapid and recurrence after surgery a distinct probability. I would currently place you at 90 on the Karnofsky Performance Status Scale as you are only experiencing minor symptoms, but this is likely to deteriorate rapidly in the next four to six weeks. In my opinion, you should be looking to transition in the next fortnight to ensure no further damage to brain tissue and to prevent potential permanent memory loss and cognitive impairment.’
Two weeks. Damn. I’m supposed to be meeting Parachute to discuss final details on the 25th. I’d still be adjusting then.
There’s a sound of rapid tapping. An object being repeatedly struck at a frequency that makes my nerves tingle. Where’s it coming from? My eyes scan the floor and alight on my right foot. It’s knocking against the metal leg of the chair. I stare at it, detached. An observer.
‘Mr Easton, is everything all right?’ The smile is gone and Dr Peters is looking at me, brow furrowed in concern. He isn’t used to this sort of behaviour. Tommy says he only really takes on Level One patients now. Dealing with lower insurance levels, not to mention the DMWs (Dead Men Walking, as Tommy calls them), and their tiresome anxieties can really interfere with one’s golf.
I don’t answer him immediately. I’m locked inside my head.
His voice has a slight tremor. I’m such a fool. He’s on alert now. He’ll report back to Father for sure.
‘It’s fine, thanks. I’m fine. I’ll contact the Transition Centre straight away.’
I stand and head towards the door. I’m getting a headache. One of the bad ones. I don’t know why this is affecting me so much. This body has only hosted me for two years, the previous one lasted seven and I felt nothing. Maybe it was a mistake to choose one that was too similar to my Original. Same age: seventeen at time of transition. Same build: broad but not overdeveloped; ‘a swimmer’s body’, the breakdown had said. Same colouring: tanned skin, light brown hair that regains its blonde in summer. Same eyes even – green with flecks of yellow. Too many sames. It’s harder when it fails. I’ll choose something different next time. Get less attached.
I think I’ll cancel Tommy after all. I’m not really in the mood for tennis.
I’m sitting next to Curly, willing the Morning Meeting to end. Eventually the screen recedes and the Supervisor twists up the corners of her mouth in a poor imitation of a smile.
‘Now, some good news,’ she says, trying to sound light and enthusiastic. It doesn’t suit her. ‘Another one of you has been chosen as an Apprentice. Tomorrow they will travel to the Research City to help their Mentor with the crucial work of cleansing the Wilderness. Praise the Creator.’
‘Praise the Creator,’ we all mumble back, but no one’s putting any effort into it. We’re all too busy scanning the room, seven hundred heartbeats stopped in anticipation.
Who is it? Who’s been chosen?
‘Will F3526 please approach the stage.’
It takes a second to register who she’s talking about. The Creator assigns us our numbers. To deviate from them is heresy even though nearly everyone apart from the Supervisor and the Guardians does it.
My heart stops as Curly shoots me a quick look of astonishment and then stands up and starts to edge forward through a sea of applause. Curly. Curly. ‘No, no, NO!’ I inwardly scream. I know I should be happy for her, rejoicing too, but all I can think is, Please don’t take my friend. Not yet. I’m going to miss her too much. I know I’m being selfish and I should ask the Creator for forgiveness, but still; it’s Curly. And she’s been my best friend, my only proper friend, since, well, since forever.
I don’t know why it comes as such a surprise. I always knew she’d be one of the first of our year to be chosen. She’s off-the-scale clever, mastering Further Maths and Physics while the rest of us were still groping around with Newton and his apple. And she’s beautiful. Stunning, even. She has this flawless, dark-brown skin and black curls that just sort of tumble around her face. And when she moves, she kind of glides. All the boys just stare at her. The Guardians too. Ever since she turned fourteen.
The younger ones clap with barely contained excitement. Eligibility for selection starts at sixteen, so to be chosen at seventeen is an incredible honour and it gives them hope that it could be them soon. It’s different with the older ones. The ones in their late twenties. If they aren’t chosen by thirty they’ll be transferred to a different Home. Their applause is mechanical and jealousy palpably radiates off them. If you could see them on a different plane, their eyes would be leaping out at you, shining the brightest green. Me, I just taste bile rising at the back of my throat.
Eventually Curly reaches the foot of the stage and then climbs the steps to stand at the Supervisor’s side.
‘Congratulations F3526, you’ve been selected as the next Apprentice. You are to report to the office tomorrow morning at seven. I hope the rest of you take inspiration from her deportment, intelligence and dedication.’
The Supervisor doesn’t hug Curly, or even smile at her in any way. She just watches her face – no doubt for evidence of the required level of gratitude.
‘Thank you. Praise the Creator,’ Curly replies, her voice measured and lyrical as she gives the obligatory response. But she isn’t OK. I know she isn’t. Even before she trips on the last step as she descends from the stage.
About The Author:
Sarah Govett graduated with a First in Law from Oxford University. After qualifying as a solicitor, she set up her own tutoring agency, which specialises in working with teenagers. She began writing after the birth of her first daughter. Sarah is an in-demand speaker at schools and has the support of a network of school librarians, independent bookshops and numerous Waterstones stores.