RELEASED 14 SEPTEMBER 232 pages | Paperback

Author Calder Szewczak

Publisher Angry Robot

On a dying Earth – ravaged by global warming and nuclear fallout – resources are precious, so population growth is controlled by the Offset; for every child born a parent must die. And on their 18th birthday, it’s the child who decides which parent is executed. That synopsis might sounds like the trailer voiceover for the next Hunger Games or Maze Runnerstyl­e YA movie series – but fortunatel­y The Offset is far more interestin­g and thoughtpro­voking than that.

The plot follows one family: Miri, a fiercely anti-natalist teenager with a self-loathing for her own existence, and her two mothers; one of whom, Jac, just happens to be a scientist who could save the world. Problem is, Miri is fast approachin­g 18, and she loathes Jac. Does she have the right to nominate Jac as her Offset?

It’s a short, sharp shock of a book with hard-to-love but compelling characters, full of self-doubt and representi­ng all sides of the arguments. Graphic setpieces highlight the horror of the Offset, and some agonising plot twists emerge as the horrific details of this dystopian future unfold.

With some unanswered questions and aspects left open to interpreta­tion, it occasional­ly feels like a book desperate to appear on a GCSE exam paper (“Discuss the significan­ce of the mutant rat’s fate in The Offset”) but it’s undeniably a powerfully told debut.

Dave Golder

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