Riot by Sarah Mussi
|Riot by Sarah Mussi|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Intense dystopian thriller with more action than you could shake a stick at but which also gives you plenty of pause for thought. We're loving the direction Sarah Mussi is taking.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
It is 2018 and Britain is still in recession. Years of austerity have devastated the country. Banks are going under. Unemployment is rising. The cost of welfare is soaring. Prisons are overflowing. And the population is still rising. Something has to give. The solution? Forced sterilisation of all school-leavers without a secured place in higher education or a guarantee of employment. The programme has started with prisoners but the legislation to roll it out across the population is about to go through parliament. Unsurprisingly, there is a growing popular protest against it.
Ooh! Right from the get-go I was on tenterhooks to find out what happens at the end of this story - no clues or spoilers, sorry! - and I'm sure you will be, too. Riot is a real page-turner; vivid, intense and immediate. It doesn't let up for a minute right from its barnstormer opening, in the middle of a peaceful demonstration as it turns into a violent riot. There's an awful scene: as a security helicopter searches out its target, a young girl with a bulge underneath her coat is shot. Only the bulge isn't a bomb; it's a baby. And it's missed its target - the target isn't the girl with a baby, it's Tia, aka EVE, our protagonist.
Tia is a hacktivist and, as EVE, she has been helping organise the protests on the dark web, a place that Google doesn't find. But Tia wants peaceful protest and not violent riots and she resents the yobs who loot and destroy. And she also has a secret: her father is a prominent politician and the architect of the forced sterilisation bill. Can she evade the security forces and stop the bill? And find common ground with Cobain, the criminal rioter?
It would be easy to pick holes in Riot. The eventual unpicking of the conspiracy is relatively easy compared to its depth and complexity. Tia does any number of toothgrindingly stupid things. She refuses to believe evidence that disproves her assumptions even when it slaps her in the face with the proverbial wet fish. And Britain seems to have slipped an awful long way just four years into the future. But isn't that just how it is with speculative fiction? The point isn't to pick holes, the point is to ask what if? Could it happen? How slippery is the slope we're on? And if the answer is quite slippery, actually, then we need to start thinking. And I think Riot asks some questions that are worth thinking about. What should be the balance between national security and civil liberties? Are the poor to blame for poverty? Really? Are there people worth so little that we should write them off? Really? Can we trust those who govern us?
But it's not boring and worthy, this story. It is told in the first person and it's strong and vivid and it packs a real punch. So I think you read it in a tearing hurry and think about it later. That's the mark of a good book, right?
You can read more book reviews or buy Riot by Sarah Mussi at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Riot by Sarah Mussi at Amazon.com.
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