We See everything
released 21 september 272 pages | Hardback/ebook
Author William sutcliffe Publisher bloomsbury
One day there will doubtless be a book hailed as “Nineteen Eighty-Four for the drone generation”. In the meantime we have We See Everything, a kind of Young Adult beginner’s guide to dystopia. It’s a decent enough stopgap – exciting, pacy, with some clever ideas – but it’s hardly the most incisive critique of surveillance culture.
The book features parallel plots, focusing on two teenage boys – Lex and Alan – who never meet but whose lives impact fatefully on each other. They both live in a ravaged, post-war, fenced-off London, where the all-seeing eyes of a swarm of drones enable the victors to keep the masses under the thumb. Lex is part of the resistance while Alan is a remote drone pilot.
Some of the parallels between them are a little laboured – they’re both called Al (kinda); they both find love at some point; they’re both gamers – but that highlights the differences: one’s a git (guess who) and one isn’t. Both characters are vividly drawn, with Alan being a painfully truthful portrait of how teenage male paranoia can breed dangerous self-delusion.
The book leaves the best till last, though – if you can forgive a rather cheap literary trick. The final couple of chapters go off in a surprising and thought-provoking direction, with an ending that’s tidy and messy at the same time. Dave Golder