An oddly heartwarming dystopia
Summary: Ozark and a “misfit toys” collection of co-conspirators—gamer, pole dancer, assassin, gay actor and so forth--must overthrow the United Corporations of America (Health, Energy, Defense etc.) while surviving and/or escaping their quasi prisoner/slave existence. They struggle at it for a while, but are overcome by events. The End.
Review: The plotline and world-building are the simplest of threads, straightforward from oddly intriguing and mysterious kick-off chapters to gentle build in the middle and gallop to a mighty and powerful end. The treat here is the characters, a huge and high quality chocolate box of unique and delicious characters. We’ve got generals airlifted in from Dr. Strangelove. As mentioned above, a pole dancer with a heart of gold. Several gamers, hardcore, and their evil bot opponents. Murderous assassin-roommates. A handsome gay actor with a flair for on-stage revolutionary fervor. Our hero, Ozark, of course, but I will leave the reader to discovery him. Turk is a marvelous character builder. Even the minor characters linger with you, each with their own speech and behavior patterns and perfect reality. The storyline and world are social commentary sketches, more absurd than strictly plausible, powerfully but non-didactically skewering our crony capitalist current reality by taking it to absurd extremes and then letting events unfold. The author also takes aim at online dating sites, military leaders, and seed manufacturers, among other fun explorations.
I loved the writing. Unobtrusive when the action was galloping along, full of delicious observations and turns of phrases during slower periods, this book was a true pleasure to read. From the first chapter, I relaxed into the absurdities and trusted the author, for I felt safe in the hands of a mad master. The book might piss off a few ardent regulation-hating capitalists, but anyone with a sense of humor will enjoy it. Little tricks, like a chapter number countdown, demonstrate the intelligence and craft behind every line. I suppose it is strange to call a dystopian novel “heartwarming” but it actually was, in spite of all the tragedies, and the dead people, and the insect-things, and the end of the world as we know it.
Recommendation: I happily recommend this book for those who like dystopian fiction mixed with a little gently humorous social commentary. The writing and craft are top-notch. Some sexy moments and cartoon violence, but nothing gross or graphic.