When I heard Dawson talk about this on The Once & Future Podcast
this past Spring, I knew I had to read it. But like with about half the things I say that about when I listen to that podcast, I never got around to it. I'm so glad I finally remembered to grab it. This was a great read -- a heckuva gut punch. A great immersive experience.
Sure, we've all read dystopian fictions that take place decades (at least) after the fall of whatever society preceded it. But have you ever wondered what it's like to live in the opening minutes of a dystopia? Panem before the Capital City was wretched hive of scum and vanity? Well, that's exactly what Patsy Klein is going through.
Yeah, Patsy Klein -- some parents, right?
So Patsy is given a task: work as an indentured servant/debt collector for 5 days and collect from these 10 people. To collect, get their signature and record one of three choices: pay up everything you owe to the bank, now; become an indentured servant yourself for 5 days; or be killed, and here's a 17-year-old with a 9mm to take care of that. Take your pick.
How can anyone get away with that? Well, Valor Bank (and a couple of smaller entities) has bought -- lock, stock and barrel -- the debt of the U.S. and every individual in it. Which is a lot of debt when you stop and think about it (all that's required, really is, something like a California Rolling Stop to reach that conclusion). Valor Banks wants that debt taken care of pronto -- and thanks to a subclause in that credit card application that no one ever reads, and some greased wheels in Congress, they can present these choices to pretty much every citizen. Patsy's part of the first wave of these collectors, moving out before the majority of Americans have figured out what's happening.
Killer concept, right? Utterly horrific -- and yet almost utterly believable. Like I said before, when you plunge in and read this in a sitting or two it works great. If you take the time to think about some of the elements, I'm not sure it'd hold up nearly as well. But man, it was a fun read, even when it made you uneasy about what Patsy was doing.
And before I go any further, I just have to add that this is one of the best cover designs (front and back) I've seen this year. I hope someone got a promotion/bonus/raise out of this.
Again, I'm not sure how well this would hold up to examining various aspects of the world. It's clear that there's a pretty well-developed world supporting this, but the more we see of it, the more we understand the machinations that Valor Bank went through on both the macro and micro level -- which it seems clear is where the sequel is going -- the less I'm going to like it. A vague, nebulous Other doing horrible things is frequently better than seeing the Man Behind the Curtain. Right now, this is great -- grabs the imagination, taps in to zeitgeist-y resentments towards banks/financial entities, and adds a deadly teenage girl. You explain everything, let us see what's going on and I'm afraid we'll end up with something like Allegiant (I'm convinced that was the biggest problem with the end of the trilogy, Roth explained too much).
A great read with some real weaknesses th