The main character (and narrator) of Generation Lawless is fifteen-year-old Jessica (Jessie) Philips.
Jessie was born in England and spent the first five years of her childhood on Earth; a hostile, crowded, unpleasant planet. Her parents dreamed of leaving for one of the new terraformed planets but rumours circulated that these colonies were corrupt, set-up by rich individuals who extorted the population and ran the colonies like dictatorships.
Then Jessie's aunt learns of a new colony called Plentiville, a world comprised of subburb, city and countryside that promises to provide an idealic childhood to its residents, free from the violence and hostility of Earth. Jessie's aunt leaves soon after, taking her baby daughter, Ada, with her.
The Philip's family want to follow suit but don't have enough money. They begin saving, but as the years pass, England degenerates further. Already straining under the burden of a population boom, rising sea-levels and pollution, England is rocked by a series of natural disasters and descends into chaos. The country becomes over-run by criminal gangs who rule with terror.
It is when Jessie's mum falls pregnant that the Philips decide they must leave, now. They sell everything they own, including Jessie's pet dog, Jack, and buy four spaces aboard the passenger ship travelling to the distant colony of Plentiville.
The decade Jessie spends aboard the space ship is relatively peaceful in comparison but she, like many children on board, has trouble adjusting. The ship is crowded and many passengers are troubled by what they endured on Earth.
Hope blossoms with the birth of the next generation. Mitchell (Mim) Philips, the first child born aboard the ship, lives a childhood that, in Jessie's eyes, is enviable. Where Jessie struggles with education, Mim thrives. Where Jessie picks fights and arguments with the other children, Mim plays. Though there is limited space aboard the ship, Mim finds pleasure in exploring. This is the cause of most of Jessie's irritation towards her brother, who she feels was protected and loved by her parents in ways she was not.
On the ship, Jessie receives only a basic education conducted via computer lessons, and is often distracted and unengaged. There's little consequence to her playing truant, and soon her parents give up in their attempts to educate her. As a result of her childhood experiences, Jessie is both socially immature and poorly educated.
Soon after Jessie and her family's arrival in Plentiville, adults begin to die.The original settlers on Plentiville (a generation of children raised with effortless plenty nicknamed the Firsters) blame the new settlers (the Newbies, who are considered stupid and uncivilised) for bringing the virus with them. As more and more adults die, what was initially innocent rivalry between the Firsters and the Newbies erupts into violence.
Being in the farthest subburb of Plentiville, Jessie's parents are among the last to die. The story begins on the day of their death, the day where Plentiville becomes lawless.
In many ways, Jessie is well equipped to survive in the harsh world she now finds herself; she's strong, confident, and she can fight. But she knows very little about the new planet she is on, is traumatised by her parent's deaths (though she'd never admit it), and is emotionally scarred by her childhood. She views life as cruel and unfair, and often directs her anger towards Mim who she feels was protected in ways she was not. She perceives her role as sole protector of Mim as an irritation. Jessie is surly, socially immature and, at times, incredibly selfish. But despite her bravado, she loves Mim and would die to protect him.
My hope is that, as the story progresses, Jessie will prove to be a heroine. There's certainly plenty of adversity in store to test the two Philip's children, so come back and read Episode Two to find out!