cover image The Completionist

The Completionist

Siobhan Adcock. Simon & Schuster, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-8347-8

The societal expectations of motherhood are the focus of Adcock’s vivid near-future dystopian, set in a world where water is engineered, drones and tracking implants are ubiquitous, and unassisted pregnancy is rare. Mothers must give up their jobs to raise children and are held to draconian “care standards” that seem designed to punish the poor. The narrator, 24-year-old Carter Quinn, a Marine who is suffering the lingering effects of his exposure to neurochemical agents, is back in New Chicago after serving in the Second Wars. His sister Gard, who is missing, was a Nurse Completionist, someone who helps women throughout child-rearing. Their naturally pregnant sister, Fredericka, is desperate to find her, and her motives go beyond sisterly love: she and Gard may have a risky way to get around some of those rigid government requirements. At the clinic where Gard worked, Carter finds more questions than answers. Adcock, a natural storyteller, writes flawed and believable characters and intersperses Carter’s narrative with details of his time in the Wars and missives from Gard and Fred. His quest for answers about Gard’s disappearance, however, moves at a frustratingly slow pace. Still, Adcock has created a captivating, if grim, future. Readers will want to get to the truth behind Gard’s disappearance, even if it takes a while. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (June)