cover image 84K


Claire North. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-31680-4

Lyrical language, stream-of-consciousness dialogue, and a nonlinear structure complicate this otherwise straightforward tale of entrapment within, and resistance against, a future England where every crime can be resolved through financial restitution or indentured servitude. As part of the Criminal Audit Office, Theo Miller determines what each offense is worth: £780 for sexual harassment, £84,000 for murder, and so forth. But when Dani, his ex-girlfriend, is murdered while attempting to expose the all-powerful, all-controlling Company for its corruption and abuses—and she names Theo as her missing daughter’s father before she dies—Theo is determined to finish what she started, even if it means destroying both Company and country in the process. His investigation takes him to all corners of England, from rich enclaves to hopeless slums, as the dark secrets of his own past unfold. North (The End of the Day) paints a vivid and disturbing picture of a corporate-run future devoid of human rights. The complex intricacy of her narrative voice makes this more of a poetic vision quest than a straightforward adventure, and the experimental style and tangled plotline show an admirable grasp of technique but may frustrate readers expecting a more conventional dystopian thriller. (May)