cover image The Blueprint

The Blueprint

Rae Giana Rashad. Harper, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-333009-2

Rashad’s consuming debut imagines a dystopian near future shaped by a second American civil war in 1954. In 2030, Black people, classified as Descendants of Slavery, are controlled by a new, white-led government known as the Order. DoS men serve as soldiers and DoS women are forced into work contracts for white men at the age of 15, then paired by an algorithm with a Black man when they are old enough to marry. Solenne Bonet has been contracted for five years to Bastien Martin, a high-ranking Order official who built the algorithm, and lives as his wife, having fallen in love with him and believing he would grant her freedom. Now coming to terms with the fact that love can’t exist in such a relationship, she runs to Louisiana—the only state where DoS can be free. Throughout her journey, Solenne is guided by the echoing narrative of her 19th-century ancestor, Henriette, who contended with a slave owner’s abusive obsession. The cat-and-mouse chase involving Bastien, a powerful man who will stop at nothing, and Solenne, a woman fiercely determined to gain her autonomy, thrills and disturbs. It’s a provocative and worthy mash-up of historical and speculative fiction. (Feb.)