cover image The Ragpicker

The Ragpicker

Joel Dane. Meerkat, $17.95 Trade Paper (290p) ISBN 978-1-946154-59-0

Dane (Cry Pilot) delivers a fascinating but often frustrating tale of an unlikely friendship in a postapocalyptic wilderness, where the remaining humans have formed tight-knit communities to protect themselves from outsiders, especially “twitches,” robot-human hybrids with superhuman physical and mental capabilities. Ysmany, a teen girl raised in one of these communities, witnesses her people kill a family who wandered into their territory. Only one infant boy survives. Desperate to protect the baby, Ysmany runs away with a mysterious figure known as the Ragpicker, a twitch looking for his husband. The relationship between Ysmany, the Ragpicker, and the baby, and the ways it is perceived by those they encounter, forms the heart of the story and keeps the pages turning. Many readers, however, will struggle to orient themselves in this elaborate world as key concepts are kept obscure for much of the novel. Even understanding what exactly a twitch is, which is essential to grasping anything else that’s happening, proves arduous. For those willing to put in the work, however, there are plenty of enticing speculative ideas here. Agent: Caitlin Balsdell, Liza Dawson Assoc. (July)