I love something different and this certainly is. I love great prose, and this book has it, and I love a book that’s sleek and focused, just as this one is. It’s a five star delight, a balm for a three-book-per-week reviewer on a reading diet peppered with failed look-likes.
The best thing about the new publishing is that readers get to read books like this, books that are too creative for the mainstream. Before ebooks and print on demand, this would probably never have made it onto the market because it doesn’t fit neatly into an established genre. It’s about androids, so it is science fiction, but it’s not like any other science fiction I’ve ever read. It’s set on earth far in the future after the sea levels have risen, eaten up large tracts of land and vastly changed society, so it is post-apocalyptic, but it’s not like any other post-apocalyptic novel I’ve ever read. The society the central character lives in is highly regulated with no personal freedom, so it’s dystopian, but it’s not like any other dystopian fiction I’ve ever read.
It’s not highly dramatic and full of action; it’s gentle with simple challenges, but I found it highly engaging. The central character isn’t like any other character I have ever read about before either; he’s not even human, but I fell in love with him and responded to his situation as if he were. Paftoo is a bod. He looks like an Anime character and drives a Poover, hoovering animal poo from the fields of the Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall so it will look pristine for the visitors (intrepid guests). The bods power down at night; they stop where they are and stay still until dawn, all except Paftoo. No one rides horses (lifeform 3s) any more, no one other than Paftoo, that is. He rides in secret at night when everyone else is turned off.
During the day he pretends to be like everyone else, and the author skilfully builds tension into the simple activities. Paftoo fears being ‘shared’ because he will lose all his memories. It’s happened before, but he doesn’t remember.
What are we without our memories? Are we even us? And is it better to have our problems wiped clean with our memories, or struggle with the problems, but remember who we are? These are just some of the questions about personal identity and freedom that are raised by this book, and that is why, this simple science fiction story is also literary fiction.
5 stars. Well done, Ms Morris.