This is an interesting and unusual book. A dark dystopia set in near future London where ozone burn-off is now deadly and big brother is everywhere under a fascist nationalistic government. It’s a political drama. It’s a romance. And I was surprised to find I really enjoyed it.
Charlie is an American biochemist who has not recovered from the death of her wife and leads a shut down, minimalistic life. She is pulled into “The Organization” by co-workers and is entranced by the cool and distant Harriet. As the story unfolds we see both the politics of resistance and the personal dramas of those involved.
The characters are intriguing, multifaceted and complex. Charlie the loner is coloured in slowly while Harriet remains an enigma, but one we somehow get to know even before she takes centre stage. There are a wide range of supporting players, all carefully and cleverly portrayed. The personal choices our central cast make are all about loyalty, to the cause and each other.
The setting is well done with enough recognisable London to ground the fiction in reality. The impact of ozone burn-off and global warming has changed how people live into an unpleasant battle with the light that somehow resonates with an Orwellian darkness. The whole political scene mirrors the surveillance, misinformation and newspeak of 1984, but with a modern and recognisably British flavour.
Overall an absorbing read and I can’t actually explain why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Not my usual cup of tea by any means, and some of the plot twists had my head spinning. But it certainly kept me engaged. I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author and wondering what she will come up with next.
(publisher review copy received)
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