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Paperback Book Details
  • 01/2018
  • 9781983520877
  • 308 pages
  • $12.99
Thomas Duffy
The Separation
Thomas Duffy, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

In the distant future, there is a separation of the sexes at birth for the good of society. Financial needs, above all else, have led to such drastic measures. The Separation is the story of the life of a male named Finn. The book traces his life at birth and continues past his "education" as well as beyond the time when he ultimately learns of the opposite sex. What will result from the revelation of a female society? Finn may wish he never found out. This is a story of the consequences of needs, desires and answers to questions that sometimes should not be asked.

BlueInk Review

Thomas Duffy’s science fiction novel is based on an exceptionally imaginative premise, taking readers into the 22nd century when the sexes are separated.

Duffy set his story in an overpopulated and undereducated world where “crime and pregnancy ran rampant, so laws were enforced that managed to . . . conceal the fact that there are two different sexes.” Males and females are separated until the age of 22, when they are first permitted to learn of the existence of the other sex.

Duffy presents a striking vision of a dystopic, Big-Brother-controlled society reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, and Huxley’s Brave New World. Daily doses of sexual repression medicine are the norm until the moment it’s revealed that another sex exists. Licenses to procreate are required, and the children are whisked off by the state until they are allowed to meet their parents.

In this bizarre world, Finn, a mathematical prodigy, “asks all the hard questions” and in so doing, runs afoul of the system that has granted him an esteemed teaching position and financial success. As Finn slides down his self-made slippery slope into the hell world of knowledge about the true nature of the society, social commentary about religion, gender, class, success, fulfillment, and the meaning of life fill the pages.

This is a near-genius conceit, and the ideas and social commentary presented along the way are intriguing. Unfortunately, the storytelling struggles to rise to the level of the author’s vision. Duffy overuses the narrator’s voice, which pulls readers away from the characters’ visceral reactions. Meanwhile, the prose and dialogue are pedestrian (“Why are you here?” “It’s a long story.” “We have all day.”); the world-building is incomplete; characters other than Finn are one-dimensional; and the book’s grammar needs editing (e.g., “In a quite sneakily [sic] fashion.”)

Some readers will enjoy the story for its interesting, twisty plot. But thoughtful revision to correct the abovementioned flaws would greatly improve the novel’s appeal overall.

Also available as an e-book

Feathered Quill Reviews

The Separation

By: Thomas Duffy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1983520877
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: June 20, 2018

In the year 2075, life in the United States had unfortunately evolved into a chaotic mess. Crime and unemployment was at an all-time high, while teenage pregnancy was out of control. Higher education was almost nonexistent, forcing schools to shut down due to lack of enrollment. By the time the year 2090 arrived, the future of our country was so bleak, the government had decided to take control of the situation by forcing underachieving high school students to be separated by sex and enter into rehabilitation programs, and then, upon completion of the programs, return to their families for further vocational education until the age of twenty-five. However, this decision to separate the sexes did not seem to remedy any issues, and only further frustrated the young into more rebellion. In 2163 it was then voted upon by the citizens of the United States that children born would be immediately separated by sex and raised in same-sex States by same-sex educators until the age of twenty-two and completion of their education. The young adult would then be introduced into mixed sex society where they would be further educated with regards to the opposite sex, and begin gainful employment and integration into society.

The Separation, by author Thomas Duffy, follows the story of Finn Parker, a male separated from his parents at birth and strictly educated by all-male instructors until he turned twenty-two. Finn excelled in his education and became not only a model student, but a model citizen once he was placed into mixed-sex society where he eventually marries Angela, and together they have a child of their own who is also taken away at birth. Though Finn tries to maintain a relationship with Angela, he struggles with his place in society, and ultimately makes several decisions that drastically change his future.

The author does a good job presenting a dark, dystopian story of an oppressive government-controlled society that focuses on education and career advancement at the expense of basic human needs of truth, freedom, and love. The Separation has the potential to be an excellent book, specifically for book clubs, because despite it being set in the future, critical topics, especially related to gender in society, are very relevant today, and will be sure to spark hours of debate amongst members. However, while the story itself is a compelling one, exposing readers to heavy topics such as gender roles, freedom and religion, there are some issues in the writing, mainly in spelling and grammar, that cause some unnecessary hiccups and distractions to the overall flow. Also, while the main character, Finn, is presented in an excellent and likable manner, allowing readers to not only connect with his character, but to root for him throughout the story, the interactions of other characters and the dialog feel a bit flat and forced at times. With that said, the core of the story is presented well enough to hook readers’ curiosity right from the opening lines, following through with a few interesting plot twists, and successfully carrying them towards the ending.

Quill says: The Separation provides readers a good glimpse into a dystopian future that will leave readers thinking about this story long after they have finished reading.

Foreword Clarion Reviews

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

The Separation is an entertaining dystopian thriller centered in a repressed future America.

In Thomas Duffy’s smart and timely Big Brother thriller The Separation, a mathematical genius is caught up in a dangerous game with the ruling elite.

In the distant future, college graduation rates are plunging, and teen pregnancies and student crimes are on the rise. The United States government has instituted a separation-of-sexes policy in order to restore financial stability. Children are separated from their parents at birth, forced to live in single-sex states until college graduation, and pushed to succeed and make money. After college, they are reintegrated into mixed-sex societies to reproduce and repeat the process.

Finn Parker is one such student. He excels academically and becomes a successful executive, marrying the equally intelligent Angela. But when Angela gives birth to Leonardo, Finn’s misery at his son’s separation and at his failing marriage cause him to question the separation policy. Soon he runs afoul of the authorities, and his actions have unintended consequences for him and his family.

Many of the book’s running themes—a ruling elite implementing policies that benefit the richest people in the country, control of news sources and information flow, the separation policies, equality of the sexes—hyperbolically mirror modern politics. Situations in which Finn acts as a dissenter and critic all end with additional limits placed on his freedom and intrusions into his privacy. His refusal to accept the status quo results in him being a victim of government powers.

Events within the story proceed chronologically, following Finn as child and then into his life as a grownup. The writing is crisp, concise, and punchy. The setup of scenes provides context to the ensuing action and gives the story a steady pace. Finn’s fate is determined in extended scenes; these drag—they are introduced in a repetitive loop with different players, and their developments strain believability.

This is a conceivable dystopian future, even if its elements are taken to extremes. The repressive atmosphere is well-detailed, and characters are relatable and complex. While Finn, as the primary point of view, experiences the most conflict and emotional turmoil, other characters are just as layered, particularly the morally ambiguous ruling elite. The rulers are the most villainous of the characters, but while they are unwilling to stray beyond their social and financial hierarchies, even they show moments of sympathy and understanding for Finn’s predicament. The “good” characters suffer more in retribution; the “bad” characters go out of their way to keep things the way they are. This dichotomy between good and bad is one of the strongest elements in the book.

The Separation is an entertaining dystopian thriller centered in a repressed future America.

Reviewed by Nancy Powell
August 7, 2018


Hollywood Book Reviews

Title: The Separation
Author: Thomas Duffy
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1-9835-2087-7
Pages: 306
Genre: Science Fiction
Reviewed by: Carol Davala

Hollywood Book Review

Through a powerful and thought-provoking premise, Thomas Duffy’s futuristic novel “The Separation” focuses on a society where the government has sanctioned the separation of the sexes at birth, in an effort to alleviate the chaos of the world.

With teenage pregnancies on the rise, college graduation rates falling, and crime reaching new heights, to help restore order and financial stability, the controlling hierarchy have implemented a strict dividing protocol. Here, newborns are taken from their parents, moved to single-sex states, and raised and educated by single-sex instructors until the age of twenty-two. Eventually they are schooled about the opposite sex, pills are given to suppress human desire, and they are introduced to the “real” terms of the world.

Such is the plight of the central protagonist, Finn Parker, a questioning young student and ace mathematician who advances as a top executive and eventually a dedicated teacher. When Finn marries Harvard educated Angela, the couple conceive a child, then in turn must give up their son to society’s dictates. This forced separation becomes the crux of Finn’s ponderings as he begins to question the control of a life’s path that solely values work, money, and stability. His willingness to challenge the edicts of “the powers that be”, land him in precarious circumstances that not only place his child in a position to suffer the sins of the father, but also may force Finn’s demise.

With hints of George Orwell’s “1984”, and the totalitarian rule of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Duffy fills this dystopic narrative with timeless themes of money, power, class, gender equality, and career fulfillment, intended to cast a formidable shadow over basic human longings and a quest for love. Clearly many of these critical topics share a relevance with the present day. From childhood to manhood, Duffy’s visionary take goes far beyond the scope of a traditional coming-of-age reveal. Finn’s journey includes interactions with a bevy of characters, some more sympathetic than others. Real growth and self-discovery come about through the twists and turns of a storyline that moves Finn to confront this new world’s edicts of socially accepted government restraints with their strict, harrowing agenda.

In a nod to the adage of “knowledge is power” Duffy has given teachers an important role, in raising the new generations of this society. Unfortunately the information they share is limited, particularly in terms of acknowledging the importance of personal growth and emotional freedom. However, Duffy does incorporate the concept of art and culture as an enriching life component. Here, the beautiful operatic music of Pavorotti serves to give Finn a sense of the true greatness in the world. In a similar vein, religious thought is showcased as a significant element. Though early on Finn perceives religion as a hoax, and Heaven and Hell as unrealistic, later Duffy pointedly places this central character in the suffering circumstances of Jesus.

While the consequences of Finn’s violations may seem extreme, Duffy’s book paints a conceivable anti-utopian picture. This cautionary tale moves at a steady pace and is complimented by intrigue and atmospheric detail. Though there are moments when the dialogue seems a bit forced, perhaps this is an intended reflection of the emotional disconnect of this stoic society.

“The Separation” is a dark, imaginative foray into the future. Provocative and timely, readers will experience this new world via the inquisitive nature of a likeable character, hopefully to come away pondering what is truly important in life.




By Thomas Duffy

IR Rating:


THE SEPARATION features some hits and some misses, but ultimately delivers a satisfying mark against letting the free market’s insatiable needs dominate everything in life

As THE SEPARATION unfolds in a dystopian 22nd-century America, the government takes children from parents at birth and educates the sexes separately. Girls and boys do not know their opposite exists, and parents first meet their sons and daughters after college. Why? Because the economy runs more productively when pills suppress the adolescent sex urge and students learn the skills to become productive workers.

Author Thomas Duffy tracks the life of Finn Parker, who dutifully goes from brilliant student to business wiz to dedicated teacher. He conforms yet intuitively understands that the imposed order of his world robs people of a basic human need to connect. Along the way, he meets Angela, marries and conceives a child.  From school to work to love, Finn pushes himself to fit in only to fail when moments of clarity strike.  Any confrontation fizzles before it begins as Finn lets his indoctrinated politeness and ambition thwart conflict.

This imaginative story unveils a compelling character in Finn, yet stiff prose detracts from the pacing and gives the reader a sense that more could be gleaned from Duffy’s dystopian vision. The dialogue – on purpose or not – gives the characters a quaint but stilted quality. Additionally, some minor editing issues build road bumps in the story as the reader adjusts grammar and misplaced words.

THE SEPARATION reads as a cautionary tale about the perils of putting money over love. Finn’s discomfort in his life stems from the realization of what he has lost from the separation. America’s current preoccupation with ambition, individuality and wealth hangs only a few rungs below THE SEPARATION. Duffy delivers a glimpse at an extreme, but possible result, of mindlessly worshiping things and dollars over children and community.

Duffy’s dystopia reminds the reader, through inventing their absence, that childhood and adolescence, no matter how chaotic, are true foundations of a society. When Finn leaves his business job to teach, it is his only avenue for rejecting the idea that financial success matters above all. There, at a school for boys with only men teaching them, Finn finds a surprising way to make a stand. Duffy finally gives Finn conflict, and the reader will enjoy its results.

THE SEPARATION features some hits and some misses, but ultimately delivers a satisfying mark against letting the free market’s insatiable needs dominate everything in life.

~Greg Rideout for IndieReader


"The overall premise of Duffy’s story is intriguing, and it takes opportunities to dig into such topics as sexual politics, religion, freedom, and destiny."

Literary Titan

It’s the 22nd century and the world is overpopulated and under-educated. To combat this, the government has decided that male and female students will be segregated for their first 22 years of life. They will have no knowledge of the opposite sex or of their parents.  Finn is a brilliant and questioning student, but his intelligence leads him to test boundaries and break rules. When he enters the real world he meets Angela, and they have a son, Leonardo, who awaits the same fate of separation. But Finn cannot let go of his son that easily, and he begins to tread on very dangerous ground…

The Separation by Thomas Duffy is a dystopian speculative fiction novel. Duffy has written a story with a fascinating premise, and some hefty themes are handled deftly by the author. Topics of religion, sex, gender and class are woven through the narrative, and many of the questions posed are philosophical ones such as ‘what is really important?’ and ‘what constitutes a ‘good’ life?’ There are interesting reflections on the complexity of human desire, governmental control, finding meaning in the world, and whether career or love is more important–all of which feel quite relevant in today’s world.

Finn makes for a very likeable hero, behaving in ways which are extremely relatable and understandable considering his circumstances. Duffy has written an empathetic protagonist, which isn’t always the case with dystopian fiction, and I was really rooting for him throughout. Some of the other characters, including Angela, remain quite one dimensional which limited me in really believing in, or caring about, her relationship with Finn. I would have liked some more well rounded female protagonists, but perhaps this was a technique used by the author to represent how detached the sexes are.

The book is written mainly in the third-person limited narrative with the focus on Finn, but we get insight into Angela’s thoughts and feelings too which helped me to feel slightly less detached from her. The writing is full of dialogue and at times it is weighed down with exposition—unfortunately, this made a lot of the dialogue feel quite heavy handed and not particularly natural. I particularly struggled with the conversations between Finn and Angela which were lacking in real emotion. Again, this could have been a mechanism used by Duffy to portray their stunted development when it comes to relationships/the opposite sex and communication. Despite this, the narrative moves at a fairly steady pace. I enjoyed watching Finn’s misdemeanours unfold, and there was plenty of action and intrigue to keep me turning pages.

Overall, this is a fascinating addition to sci-fi/dystopian fiction which might leave you in a slight existential crisis! It throws up profound questions about what is truly important in life, and if this sounds a little too intense, there are also lots of unexpected twists, turns and excitement to keep you on your toes.

Publishers Daily Reviews

Finn is a confused young man. And for good reason. He lives on a world in the distant future where the sexes have been separated for the first 22 years of their lives, supposedly for the greater good of society. But in fact, this both solves and creates problems.

Sent away to one of the country’s “boy states,” he grows up feeling the world is a little strange; that something is missing, and that perhaps he’s being lied to.

So he finally goes off to college, and begins to learn some hard truths about life — one of them being the awesome realization that human beings are created by, of all things, other human beings.

Thus enlightened, he enters into a relationship that gives him a son and many more puzzles to solve. He then struggles with career, women, and the overarching notion of finding happiness in life.

In Finn’s world, selfishness is a worse crime than murder. And individual pursuits, psyches, and abilities are strictly controlled in the interest of societal well-being. It is indeed a bleak, joyless existence.

Readers of sci-fi who like social justice issues embedded in their stories will enjoy following the thought-provoking revelations experienced by Finn. Because, for some reason, when all else fails, Finn still wants to survive in this incredibly restrictive world.

It’s a remarkable twist on the traditional coming of age story, powerfully presented as it is with a strong dose of social and political insights mixed in for good measure.

Readers will also likely find themselves rethinking — and reassessing — their own social norms, historical decisions, and personal choices as The Separation rolls to its surprising conclusion. It’s the kind of book that makes us grateful for the relatively unrestricted lives we lead.

This is excellent social reflection sci-fi on the order of The Handmaid’s Tale. And even though Finn’s journey is less harrowing in some ways, it is nevertheless quietly evocative, following him as it does through the pitfalls of a medicated, disciplined, controlled life — a life in which people are born to work, sex drive is suppressed, and all human emotion is regulated for the common good.

Five-plus stars to The Separation. Rarely do we see such an ambitious social agenda combined so effectively with compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and a story that’s just so eminently readable.

Readers' Favorite

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

What a fascinating idea! To be perfectly honest, I find it hard to imagine the circumstances where this might actually take place, but it is still a great idea to think about. At some point in the future, school is separated by gender. Eventually life is separated by gender, and there comes a time when most members of the opposite sex don't even know that there is an opposite sex. There have been some great novels about the differences between the sexes. The Handmaid's Tale showed the U.S. regressing in our treatment of women. Wonder Woman showed us an island where only women lived and those women don't think very much of men. All these are great ideas, but I think The Separation by Thomas Duffy is the best book I have ever read that illustrates the differences, similarities, and ultimately the interdependence between men and women. I liked it. I liked it a lot, and I'm still thinking about it.

The Separation is one of those rare books whose idea trumps characters, plot, setting, and everything else. Of course, all these other elements of a novel play a vital role in how Thomas Duffy tells his tale, but it is the idea itself that is the main jewel in this crown. Finn is a great character. I like him, but again, it is his situation that makes him compelling, just as much as it is his personality or any other trait. Once Thomas Duffy had this idea, the next step was how to present it. In other words, how will this play out? The answer to that question is called plot, and the plot of The Separation is good, though I think any plot would fall a little short of this idea. It's hard to tell you how special The Separation is. But it is easy to tell you how good it is. It is great.

Red City Review

★★★★   Imagine a world where males and females live apart, and have no knowledge that the other sex exists—until they graduate from college. In Thomas Duffy’s The Separation, this is how society operates to ensure that citizens receive an education before procreating. The storyline follows Finn Parker as he completes his schooling and is finally told about the female population. A gifted student, Finn lands a great job after graduating. He tries to stay focused on his new, promising career while adjusting to a world with women and his sudden, intense preoccupation with sex. Finn quickly meets and marries an intellectual named Angela. They have a son, Leonardo, who is immediately taken away to complete his male-only schooling. Missing his son terribly, Finn goes to extreme measures to see Leonardo and is quickly taken into custody. He must now stand up to those in power and fight to stay alive.

The societal structure presented in The Separation is both intriguing and terrifying. Readers can’t help but imagine how they themselves would fare in a world where the sexes are divided. As the story progresses, Finn’s disapproval toward the society that made him deepens and hardens. It’s nearly impossible for the reader not to feel Finn’s pain as he wrestles with the knowledge that his teachers, his parents, and those in power willingly lied to him for so many years. Upon learning about females and sex, Finn naturally becomes consumed with sexual impulses and thoughts. Even so, readers should nonetheless note that this is a major part of the book and that it won’t be suited for everyone. The final chapters of the book are completely engrossing, and at moments barbaric, as Finn desperately fights to save himself and those he loves. All in all, The Separation doesn’t let up.

Self Publishing Review

A striking vision of an extraordinarily strange future, The Separation by Thomas Duffy imagines a world where the sexual divide has never been greater – a world where men and women are unaware of the opposite sex, and kept apart for the purpose of social advancement and peace. With a small but dynamic cast of fascinating characters embroiled in this bizarre premise, this novel sings with social commentary, both about present gender conflicts and how those issues may develop in the future.

Finn is a young man who has only recently learned of the existence of the opposite sex, and his perception of the world is understandably turned on its head. However, he isn’t convinced that this is the right path – for him or the human race. Underpinning much of this plot is the idea of personal freedom, and the belief – held by some in power – that people don’t know what’s good for them, and must be directed, corralled and controlled in order to be productive members of society.

This type of totalitarian Big Brother idea is far from rare in literature, but it is executed impeccably well in this book, with just enough slivers of reality for the plot to seem wholly prescient. Touching on issues of governmental overreach in a dystopian future, it is difficult to miss the tongue-in-cheek criticism of political deception (in any era) and the dangers of quiet obedience from the citizenry. On a level beneath the intricate and clever plot, however, this novel presents poignant philosophical musings on the role of gender in our lives, and how males and females are not contradictory, but rather perfectly complementary to the other.

Though the story and its message are dead on, there are pacing issues, as some of the information dumps seem convenient and easy, whereas this world could have been more slowly explored and revealed. The dialogue seems stiff at times as well, which does detract from the book’s overall realism. Furthermore, given the serious subject matter that is being discussed, in a world where such things are not discussed, some of the characters seem too precocious to be believed. They help to progress the plot, as well as flesh out the argument and message of the book, but some of the conversations seem deliberately placed and worded, instead of developing organically from the characters readers have come to know.

That being said, the unpredictable flow of the plot, as well as the keynote figure of Finn, carries this book past these issues. The attention to detail is impressive, with many of the possible loopholes to such an unconventional story closed before they become glaring errors. The novel could have been wholly unbelievable, but Duffy isn’t afraid to pursue these bold ideas to their singularity, making the novel difficult to put down.

Overall, The Separation is flawed in parts of its execution, but the storyline is so intriguing, with so many potential implications for the characters – and for the real world – that the novel will stick with you long after the final page.


The Separation
by Thomas Duffy


reviewed by Ron Capshaw


"Separation laws…have made society recover some sort of order to what was once a chaotic nation."

In his book, Duffy extrapolates on current trends of teenage criminality and pregnancies and creates a futuristic society designed to end these out-of-control problems. The means involves separating males and females at birth into gender-specific communities. But a male character named Finn begins to question these methods at his own peril.

As with George Orwell and Margaret Atwood, Duffy creates a plausible regime. The most chilling feature for 21st-century readers lies in how quickly Duffy’s regime is able to take power by hacking into and emptying out the citizenry’s ATM accounts. In this, he validates the maxim often voiced by conservatives: that when economic freedom disappears so do the other freedoms.

Duffy is at his best when he shows how the government’s advertised turn toward an enlightened and progressive future is anything but. Instead, the regime harks back to the sexism of 19th and early 20th century America; men are taught economic expertise, while women are instructed in how to make a happy home for these “breadwinners.”

Duffy is equally good in creating in Finn a plausible and appealing rebel. Rather than have Finn rebel from the get-go, he realistically has this character’s opposition to the regime (begun when he becomes aware of the segregated females) occur slowly in an understandably cautious manner—a testament to the regime’s ability to brainwash its subjects as well as its ability to repress them. The author is also not afraid to come across as politically incorrect by showing how males and females need each other and how their exposure to each other “completes” them. All in all, Duffy has created an effective and chilling dystopian novel.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Paperback Book Details
  • 01/2018
  • 9781983520877
  • 308 pages
  • $12.99