Left with ideas to ponder
THERE’S a lot to parse in the setup for The
Evaporation Of Sofi Snow, the first book in a new young adult fiction duology from Mary Weber. Fighting teenagers, aliens from outer space, and corporations that aren’t just people, they’re nations! Add to this one mysterious disappearance and one apparent death during a horrific bomb explosion, and you’ve got a pretty dense book.
But at its heart, Sofi Snow is about relationships between siblings, friends and strangers. There’s an awesome story here, albeit one that’s choking on inconsistencies. Weber, a bestselling writer known for her
Storm Siren fantasy trilogy, branches out into a future tech, post-post-apocalyptic future in
Sofi Snow. Planet Earth has endured World War III and IV, with the fourth coming to an end after the sudden appearance of an extraterrestrial species – heck, an entire alien planet – in our solar system!
With their advanced technology, the Delonese have brought humankind’s latest conflict to a stop. They’ve even corrected our global warming problem and ushered in a period of peace on Earth that sees the dissolution of nation states, followed by the rise of the United World Corporations.
Part of the entertainment and product testing put on by the corporations is a globally televised competition among teams of teens fielded by specific corporations, who battle it out for fame and fortune in the Fantasy Fighting Games. Sound familiar?
Anyway, these teams have coders like Sofi Snow who work behind the scenes, busily programming and deploying virtual zombies and gigantic worms that the on-camera team members can deploy – team members like Sofi’s brother Shilo, who perform in front of the cameras fighting for their virtual lives to the delight of audiences everywhere.
Having worked in technology, I’m positive we’re millennia away from coders being able to write the perfect code and release it without any quality assurance testing beforehand. However, this is fiction, so we’ll do as Weber says, suspend disbelief and jump on this wagon.
So in Sofi’s world, social media influencers have long replaced actual journalists as they cover the games and other news for their fans. Not too many steps ahead of what we have in the real world now when you think about it, as companies already have Instagrammers with tons of followers shilling corporate products in their feeds.
The final layer on top comprises the intergalactic life-forms and their technology. The Delonese appeared at the height of WWIV when their planet meticulously teleported into our cosmic neighbourhood. Their arrival was so precise that it allowed their world to be put in a synchronous orbit around Earth but beyond our moon so as not to disrupt our tides and weather systems.
Themysteriessetupby Sofi Snow aren’t Agatha Christie calibre, so a few of the twists are easy to spot. Perhaps the story would have been served better if Weber had trimmed the fat off her next novel and condensed her story into one book. But it’s an enjoyable read, nonetheless.
Every chapter flips back and forth between Sofi and Miguel, a young Hispanic man who’s also her former love interest. Ah yes, the dreaded YA fiction “Instalove” happened off-page. Having two leads be persons of colour is a refreshing choice. Alas, Sofi and Miguel haven’t spoken since he left her for reasons he never clearly articulates.
But Sofi has to eat crow and ask her ex for help, because of her deep bond with her brother which drives her to do all she can to get to the bottom of Shiloh’s disappearance – or death, as the rest of the world insists even if Sofi isn’t convinced.
However, at the outset, we know there’s something “off” about Miguel, the youngest of the ambassadors Earth has chosen to liaise with the Delonese. And for the majority of the story, our male protagonist could either be a paedophile or just a really big jerk.
Weber is known for her cliffhanger endings in Storm Siren, and Sofi Snow has more of the same. It’s delightfully frustrating that though the story is written in third person, just as we think a major secret is about to be revealed, the chapter ends and a new POV begins.
This drip feeding of details makes Sofi Snow an absolute page-turner. There are stops and starts to the narrative, but the book leaves us a lot of delicious ideas to ruminate on – how we treat our family, friends, even people we don’t know. And how would our World Order change if an advanced ET civilisation revealed itself to us tomorrow?
Author: Mary Weber Publisher: Thomas Nelson, young adult science fiction The Evaporation Of Sofi Snow