cover image The Enhancers

The Enhancers

Anne K. Yoder. Meekling, $20 trade paper (340p) ISBN 978-1-950987-25-2

Yoder’s scathing speculative debut follows a group of teenagers who are pushed to their limits with mind-enhancing drugs. As Hannah finishes high school in the near-future factory town of Lumena Hills, she and her peers disregard advice from their parents and prescriptions from their school’s psychiatrist Dr. Billy, whom Hannah describes as the “bunco in charge of dosing and augmentation,” and swap their various mind- and memory-altering supplements with abandon. After Hannah, who’s been on a new drug called Valedictorian, or “V,” witnesses a gruesome accident, she’s given a memory-erasing therapy. Then, after her best friend Celia has a psychotic breakdown and winds up in the hospital, Celia runs away from treatment and encourages Hannah and their friend Azzie to flee Lumena Hills in the chaos following a fire at the pill factory. While the townspeople worry about access to their meds, the three teens hope to join up with radicals living off the grid. The narrative mostly follows Hannah, but Yoder also spins chapters from the perspective of Hannah’s uptight mother and adrift father, and sprinkles in advertising copy and warning labels for the various medications that carry a distinctive dystopian flair (“It’s so EZ to EMPTY your mind with EmptEZ”). It makes for an effective satire of achievement and, well, empty pharmaceutical promises. (Oct.)