[Background: I was looking at the bookshelf screens on my tablet and realized I’ve read quite a few recently without sharing anything, even though while none of them have been life-changing, a few are well worth the price of an e-book. This is bad behavior in a blogger, so I’ll try to run a few short reviews and get caught up.]
This book is seriously nasty, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Poor people living hard-ass lives in surprising spaces, in and out of crime, with considerable sex & drugs & rock & roll, not to mention appalling violence. What’s not to like?
Well, some of the plot dots aren’t fully connected, like exactly what the deal is with the convicts’ animals, and if that bothers you, well, then this novel will too. And a few times my suspension of disbelief in this particular alternative future was screaming for mercy. Also it’s maybe a little longer than it really needs to be.
But hey, the characters are charmingly ambiguous and some aspects of this future are pretty fascinating, and the story moves right along. The horror gets visceral but goes by so fast that you find yourself looking over your figurative shoulder as you flip through the pages. Well except for the closing climax, which I think will make anyone gasp and blench a little.
Also, if you’re South African or otherwise know Johannesburg, you’ve probably already read this, but if not really consider it. I’ve never been there but it drips with a sense of the place, which given the quality of the writing and the fact that Ms Beukes is South African, seems likely to be genuine.
Also, anyone who’s lived on the Net will be struck by the portrayal of our heroine’s side-job as a 419-scam operative, and a very plausible walk-through of what the successful closing of a 419 might just be like. It must happen often enough, or they wouldn’t be doing it.
Anyhow, it’s fun, it moves right along, and it’s not really like anything else I’ve ever read. So I suspect a lot of you would like it.