In a future where everyone is constantly connected to the internet by Importal™ chips in their heads, Destry spends a sheltered, isolated life without one, until something goes terribly wrong, and it is up to her and her motely band of unlikely heroes to save the future of humanity.
After the death of her father, Destry’s life remains the same old lazy humdrum existence of compulsive movie watching and getting drunk, all that is afforded to her as she cannot interact with a world that doesn’t see her, and doesn’t want to. Until one fateful day, something goes very wrong with the Importal™ implants, a technological Armageddon, caused by a virus that is destroying the internet and everyone connected to it. Her father, she finds out, feared this might happen and has left her instructions that she must follow to try to put things right. The source of the virus is somewhere in Megacity London and the only way to stop the destruction is to cross the country and get into the city. With everyone else dead or reduced to drooling idiots by the destruction of their Importals™, she is left with little choice but to enlist the aid of her friend Weasel (a paranoid grumpy old Jamaican) and Derek (a mild mannered slightly brain damaged solicitor), to save the day. They leave Spamlington behind, the only home she has ever known, and set out in an old hackney cab on an adventure across the country, into a world she never knew existed.
Destry is an interesting character. She is the main character with Weasel just as central to the story. Everyone else seems to come and go, which was a very interesting way to story tell. Instead of establishing a group and staying with them, there are two central characters that get other members on the group that come and go as their part of the story comes and goes. Far warning there is fair amount of point of view switches, sometimes multiple times in a chapter. I also think Albert became Alfred for a bit…
Head hopping aside, the biggest issue was the dialogue. It was very difficult to follow, especially at the beginning, because the accents and one of them having a head injury (simplified but good enough). I would sometimes have to read through twice to understand what multiple characters were saying. Although impressive, there were just too many in the beginning all at once. The dynamic of them all at the same time made the read tricky.
For the first 20% of the book I wasn’t sure what the plot was or even what was going on. I think this may have been due to the subtly of the plot without enough contest or lost among the setting descriptions. All trying to stop a glitch that could bring the human race to their knees. Once it got rolling the plot really took a bizarre but interesting turn. It became amusing in more than a few ways with its feeling of taciturn satire. This is a strange journey that is unique and colorful. For some reason it reminded me of the Fallout games. That being said there were a few minor plot holes that left the novel with the feeling that it needed to be fleshed out more.
I do feel like the author was very passionate about the topics and themes covered in the book. I also could see that they had done their research. However, there was times the story fell away and it became a lecture on topics like ‘humans are killing our planet and turning it into a parking lot’ or ‘humans will reap their own description.’ To the point of it felt very preachy. I actually enjoyed the topics and the themes but it could be smoothed out. Especially because sometimes I couldn’t tie it back to the plot. This isn’t as bad near the end but there are pages of lecture like writing in the beginning and middle that didn’t make for easy reading.
Fascinating and vivid imagery on the setting without being overtly detailed but following sequence of events very precisely. Master of vocabulary that seems to flow naturally. However, there were a few confusions of tenses. The author did a wonderful job creating a dystopian future that felt logical and potentially realistic. It was one of the strengths of the novel. The characters that seemed to come and go was also a unique change.
This book had so much potential and so did the author. The writing was wonderful and unique. Although some of the above aspects made it feel long, it was filled with awesome scenes and strange but interesting characters. In short this was a great first try that I feel this author will only improve with each book they write.
3.5 stars (rounded down)
I would think of this as charmingly bizarre sci-fi. Lots of potential with this author that I imagine will improve with each book.
This is a voluntary review.