Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

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Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Category: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Part Dystopian Future, part Sociology book; Walkaway is a book full of interesting ideas just looking for an entertaining story to hang from.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 504 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781786693051

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Science Fiction is not always what it seems. You may think that you are reading an exciting space adventure about many tentacled aliens, but in fact it is an allegory for race relations in modern America. The best books are able to balance the hidden meaning of the book, whilst still entertaining the reader with a great story. The worst can feel like an author preaching directly to the reader and leaving their story to struggle in the background.

In a future Earth things have not got better. The Default are the people who live in the vibrant cities, but with new tech available, there are actually very few jobs left. For those people who can no longer stand living in the Default they can walk away – the process of walking into the dead lands which surround the cities. The only problem for the Default is that these Walkaway communities are not only surviving, they are thriving.

Cory Doctorow is one of the most exciting writers of Science Fiction currently working, his teenage novels and Little Brother in particular, explored big ideas in a very entertaining package. His stories have real messages behind them about how modern society is broken; the overreaching of governments or the failing of capitalism. Walkaway is Doctorow taking these arguments to an adult audience. This has allowed him to explore more fully his ideas, but has also led him to lose a core element – storytelling.

There are moments of Walkaway that work well. The world building itself is one. This is a believable dystopian future where technology has managed to take over lots of people's jobs, but we are still expected to buy things. The ideas also work; I particularly like that Big Business will stamp down on people using their perfectly functioning old machines, just because they claim to own the IP. The issues in the book is how these two elements merge, or not as the case may be.

The book feels like it was ghost written by Basil Exposition. There are far too many scenes in which the main characters have philosophical conversations with one another for the benefit of the reader. We are talking pages of dialogue exploring how socialism works and capitalism does not. Between these diatribes their attempts to be a story, but this is so disjointed due to the countless conversations that plod on. Years are skipped in the book, characters come and go – it is a little confused.

It has happened many times in the past that an author finds success in their early work so they decide to expand and do more of the same, but just end up with too many pages that could have been edited out. Doctorow works better in Youth Fiction as the format forces him to consider the audience and cater better by reducing the jargon and making it exciting. Walkaway feels like a bloated indulgence that has glimpses of his great work, but ends up being more like a philosophy book than dystopian fiction.

It is possible to use dystopias to explore ideas in an interesting way Nod by Adrian Barnes shows this.

Buy Walkaway by Cory Doctorow at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walkaway by Cory Doctorow at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Walkaway by Cory Doctorow at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walkaway by Cory Doctorow at Amazon.com.


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