In this book, Britain has been divided into four separate countries, based on the old theory of body humors and the personalities associated with them – sanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic. There is no interaction between the new countries – you’re considered contaminated if you do.
When the country is divided, every single person is evaluated, and families are torn apart if different members are found to fit different profiles. Matthew Micklewright is an eight year old when this happens, and is taken from his parents. He’s given a new name – Thomas Parry – and a new family, and brought up in the sanguine territory. He’s done so well, he’s given a job in the government, and eventually sent to a conference outside the sanguine zone. While there, a bomb casts him loose, and he travels across all the zones before finally returning home.
This was a really interesting story, with a lot of things to ponder: are we really only one thing? What’s it like to be a true outsider? The only thing I hated was the end. Thomas has a really grand adventure, and the ending was completely anti-climatic. I almost feel like I’m missing something, I was that disappointed.