America City by Chris Beckett
|America City by Chris Beckett|
|Category: Dystopian Fiction|
|Reviewer: Em Richardson|
|Summary: A blockbuster with a conscience, this is a fun, easy read, that also shows the potential future consequences of many of our actions. Fans of political reads will like the way it satirises many aspects of modern politics.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: November 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
America City tells the story of Holly, an ambitious publicist who sets aside her own political beliefs in order to help the ambitious Senator Slaymaker with his Presidential campaign. Set in the 22nd century, the novel tells of an incredibly disunited United States, where the effects of climate change have created deep divisions between the affluent Northern States, and the South, which is frequently ravaged by extreme weather. Holly and Slaymaker hope to change this, working together on the plan they believe to be the solution to the problem of where to place the thousands of Americans who have been made homeless by devastating storms.
One thing I loved about this book was the way it seemed to both satirise aspects of life in the present day, and show how some of our current actions may impact on future generations. Aside from the obvious consequences of global warming - aggressive storms that have destroyed many homes and businesses - the book discusses the future impact of nationalist, exclusive politics. The problems that occur as a result of exclusive politics and mistrust of other countries manifest themselves in many ways in this novel, but most obviously in the mistrust of immigrants, and the belief that America is superior to its neighbours. There is even discontent within America itself, between those with different political beliefs, and those who have come from different areas. Needless to say, readers may notice that Becket seems to have been inspired by certain aspects of real-life American politics, showing both what could happen in the future if the current situation isn't rectified, and what can happen if the public takes a politician's proposals too seriously, as Holly and Slaymaker's ideas spiral out of their control.
I also liked the idea of the Whisperstream- a digital network used by almost everyone, where extreme rumours fly around. Once again, this seemed to be another satirical aspect of the novel, with the technology reminding me of a highly advanced version of the modern-day internet and social media. Beckett even plays on recent allegations of 'bots' being used to spread fake news stories online, as he has Holly use AIs to spread rumours that benefit Slaymaker's campaign through the Whisperstream. This provides an unnerving insight into both the way some people seem inclined to believe everything they read online, and how technology can advantage those wishing to spread malicious rumours.
My main criticism of the novel would actually have to be the characters, who sometimes seemed rather undeveloped. Slaymaker is simply the stereotypical ambitious politician; Holly is the stereotypical ruthless career woman, and Richard is the stereotypical good-natured but long-suffering husband of said career woman. We are told all about how Holly has a special hold over Slaymaker, who loves her ideas and places a great deal of trust in her, yet we only ever see a few conversations between them, and these conversations aren't exactly riveting, so it isn't always easy to see how said relationship actually developed. Character-wise, the best parts of the novel actually appear when Beckett cleverly splits his narrative, including stories told from the perspective of the every-day citizens whose lives have been impacted by Slaymaker's policies.
It may seem dramatic in places, but America City is certainly a novel with a message, as it makes readers question whether we can change anything today, in order to preserve our environment for future generations. And yet, it also manages to be light-hearted and entertaining, as it clearly satirises many aspects of today's politics. If you're after the next block-buster read that actually has a conscience, then this might just be for you. If nothing else, you'll enjoy despairing over the fact some of the novel's dire predictions don't seem entirely unrealistic in today's political, and actual, climate.
For further reading, I'd suggest anyone who enjoyed this book might like to check out The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, another book that both makes alarming predictions about out future, and satirizes many aspects of modern consumer culture, from the obsession with fashion to reality TV.
You can read more book reviews or buy America City by Chris Beckett at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy America City by Chris Beckett at Amazon.com.
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