BOY 23

Lost in a for­est

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 352 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook

Au­thor Jim Car­ring­ton

Pub­lisher Blooms­bury

We’re used to postapoc­a­lyp­tic sto­ries set in worlds gov­erned by evil cor­po­ra­tions, dev­as­tated by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters or de­stroyed by plagues. It takes some se­ri­ously bad luck to live in a world in which the three have com­bined – but bad luck seems to be the gen­eral way of life for lit­tle Jes­per, aka Boy 23.

Af­ter a hor­rific me­te­orite strike un­leashed a deadly Marsh Flu, the money-grab­bing Hu­ber cor­po­ra­tion im­pris­oned Jes­per – pos­si­bly pa­tient zero – in a room for his en­tire life. When he’s un­ex­pect­edly kid­napped and re­leased in a for­est, he has to go on the run... which is tricky, given that he’s never seen an­other hu­man be­ing. One thing he is good at, though, is heal­ing him­self when he’s hurt – and given that he can’t seem to stay out of trou­ble, that’s rather handy.

Boy 23 is a rat­tlingly good read, al­though oc­ca­sion­ally clichéd (an or­phan­age run by nasty priests, for ex­am­ple) and the way it switches be­tween char­ac­ters can be choppy. Still, it’s given poignancy by its lo­ca­tion (Bo­hemia, hence ev­ery­body speaks Ger­man – cue par­al­lels to Nazism) and a rather nifty twist or two along the way. And as for the shel­tered Jes­per him­self, his world­view is fas­ci­nat­ing. In­trigu­ing sto­ry­telling. Jayne Nel­son

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