Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."
word count: about 110 000
*ARC provided by NetGalley
"Lord, I pray to you in my capacity as Chairman of the Board of Williams Gypsum Corporation and de facto head of this household. Thank you for selecting me to lead this successful company and family. We praise your wisdom and judgement in selecting all the leaders of our society. Thank you for allowing our company to provide us with this home, this food, this way of life. Amen."
This is not a 'feel-good, all ends well and evil gets defeated' kind of book. That's the first thing to keep in mind.
Here we have a dystopian novel that in NOT a YA romance. Which fills me with an imponderable joy. It's the future. And the world? Well, it went to shit. But in a really bizarre way. Corporations run the world in which resources are extremely scarce. There's a rigid hierarchy in society. Career is a religion, corporation is God, and obedience to authority, imperative.
"All of a worker's needs - housing, food, education, security, medical care, everything - were met in return for the pledge of only one duty: total dedication to the company."
Not the nicest of circumstances. It looks like corporate feudalism.
Characters? There are many. At first we get only little snippets of a story from multiple view points (and I mean multiple), which made me sceptical, but then they nicely come together and form a smooth story. Smooth, but not easy to read. There's no main character. More than that, there's pretty much no black and white. No one to love completely. Every single person is flawed. And there's a looming corporate evil, but given human love of power and authority I don't find that excessive.
Story? Blew my mind. I did not see that coming. And that. And that. That too. Wow Pretty much a bumpy ride full of surprises. Nobody's safe, no outcome certain. Seriously, in a way it's like G.R.R. Martin. If you don't like your characters dying, this book is not for you.
It doesn't have a happy end, but it's only the first book in a series, so I didn't expect a full resolution. But I didn't expect such a mess either. And a mess it was. In a good, but slightly masochistic, way.
I did have some minor problems with a story that made me consider dropping the rating, but that would be unfair. The whole thing was way too good. Still, they can't go unmentioned. WARNING!!! Next paragraph may contain minor spoilers (mainly from the very beginning of the book, but still, you deserve a fair warning).
There's a certain inconsistency that made me frown a lot. Diehl mixes magic/spirituality with technology/realism. Those two don't mesh. Especially if there's only one element that stands out like a sore thumb.
Travelling souls? No, not minds. Souls. Travelling from the past. Actually, just one soul. Yeah, that did not fit in at all. If the author stuck with the idea of drug induced split personality that would be more consistent.
In the end, this book exceeded my expectations and brutally surprised me every step of the way.