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.