Totem

Darin Bradley. Underland, $16 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-63023-015-9
This virtually plotless dystopian novel plunges the reader into the minutiae of daily life in an emerging theocracy that is being both protected and co-opted by the world outside its boundaries. Years ago, Aer achieved independence from the occupiers who exploited it for a radioactive stone central to Aer's religion, which requires its residents to ritually indulge in personal radiation abatement procedures. Today, Aer is socially primitive but dependent on Internet-like technology called Worldview, a voyeuristic global network that intrusively films the occupants like a reality-based television program. Through the intersecting experiences of a large cast of well-developed characters that includes foreign journalist Helena Villarreal, tech-savvy youth Jego, and police officer Asha, Bradley (Chimpanzee) suggests a collusion between forces within and outside the country that, by the novel's end, verges on the ominous. The tale meanders for long stretches, but it provides an accurate street-level view of life in a turbulent developing nation. Agent: Kristopher O'Higgins, Scribe. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
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