Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves
|Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell|
|Summary: Catcher in The Rye meets Neuromancer in this well-realised, thoroughly depressing tale of teen angst in a world where supermen and robots control everything.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 462||Date: July 2019|
If the game wasn’t fair before, it’s definitely not fair now. Or so thinks Dorian Waters, part of the ever-expanding portion of humanity who can’t afford the nano-implant and genetic augmentation regimen known as Revision. And because he can’t afford Revision, he can’t get into college. He can’t get a job. And when he sees the brilliant and mesmerizing Lena for the first time, he knows he doesn’t have a chance with her, either. Feeling thoroughly lost and exasperated, Dorian robs a house with his best friend, Ethan. Then they do it again. It’s thrilling and terrifying and deeply unsettling. But since they take so little each time that their targets don’t notice, they’re able to keep at it until they have enough money saved up. Once they do their first Revision, their initial choices in self-enhancement start impacting their future choices, which in turn impact their future Revision––on and on in a downwards spiral of self-destruction. Dorian desperately wants to slow things down and figure out the kind of person he really wants to be, but with the police one step behind them and a contentious relationship with his brother, Jaden, threatening to unravel everything, it’s the expedient choices that he’s finding himself more and more compelled to make.
Our protagonist and narrator is Dorian, a high-school student who turns to housebreaking with his best friend Ethan in order to pay for his Revisions. Part of me really does want to sympathise with Dorian, and he's not without sympathetic qualities, but at the same time his extreme self-centeredness, tendency to blame all his problems on society, obsessive stalking of Lena, and his looking down on others as being stupid make him quite hard to like at times. Ethan isn’t much better, being a cowardly, depressed drug addict who also only thinks about himself. Dorian’s brother Jaden, an undiagnosed psychopath, is a source of constant conflict with Dorian, constantly poking and prodding and making their parents suspicious. It’s certainly brave of Graves to try to write a story with normally unlikeable characters, but Dorian and Ethan may be on their way to redeeming themselves by the end of the book.
The setting of the novel is actually quite interesting, and it does take into consideration how the technology described would impact the world at large. Gene editing and robotics are relatively commonplace, forming the basis of Revision. Revision improves the subject’s physiology, thereby making them superhumanly strong, smart and attractive, thereby rendering ordinary people obsolete. However, this treatment is very expensive, and only the very rich can afford it. Those whose jobs have been taken by machines and the Revised are on a system of basic income, and inflation has become so bad that the dollar has had to be replaced by the Benjamin Franklin (or Benjie) in the same way that the Mark was replaced by the Reichsmark in order to combat hyperinflation in 1920s Germany. In many ways, the realism of the world only adds to the depression factor, since all of this may end up coming true one day.
Overall, this is a well-realised, yet ridiculously depressing tale of teenage angst in a world where supermen and robots have free reign over the world.
Similar books by other authors:
Neuromancer by William Gibson – a classic piece of cyberpunk fiction for adult readers, with a similarly struggling protagonist.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves at Amazon.com.
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