released OUt NOW! 400 pages | paperback/ebook
Author Ferrett steinmetz Publisher angry robot
In this standalone by the author of the ’Mancer trilogy, the dead rule the living. Generations of digitally uploaded deceased enjoy paradise while keeping the living in a miserable state. For the mortal masses, life is worthless; they dream of suicide and cyber-immortality.
Our living hero is Amichai, a prankster rebel in a New York orphanage, who’ll move (digital) heaven for his hospitalised sister. A social pariah, Amichai finds himself on an undercover mission to a hidden computer tower. What he finds will shake civilisation, living and dead...
The book marries a bold premise to a highly entertaining adventure, though the two sides don’t always mesh. It depicts a vivid alternate world where fleshy life is seen as a burden before true existence. As you might expect, religion figures heavily in the story, with Christians as terrorists (or perhaps freedom fighters). There are shades of The Hunger Games; a Max Headroom-style stuttering virtual character; a juicy, well-plotted love triangle; and loads of action that takes place in between.
The downsides are the book’s slow start; its action scenes, which can read like a pile-up of successive climaxes; and a few clunky developments. The world is so fresh that it’s disappointing when the book goes for some very familiar action-movie beats, but it’s still a bracing read. Andrew Osmond