Posts Tagged ‘fear’

This story is set in London in the near future; it’s a London that in some ways feels very familiar, but in some ways is scarily different from the London of today.  Counties have been partitioned off, and Londoners are effectively trapped in their city.  To escape, they have to literally go underground, and risk their lives.  Women are not allowed to work – indeed, are not even allowed outside their house unless they are covered with a veil.  The fear of paedophilia is so immense that men are frightened of spending time with any child who is not their own, and even then, only with their wife present.  Theatre and books are banned, and any kind of culture is considered anarchic.

Living in the middle of all this are young couple Lucas and Angela.  Lucas works for the sinister Ministry, as a Miracle Inspector – his days are spent visiting people who claim to have discovered a genuine miracle, but so far every ‘miracle’ has been a fraud, or the wishful thinking of the claimant.  Lucas and Angela make plans to leave London, but it turns out to be much harder than anyone could imagine.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Dystopia is one of my favourite genres, and fans of such books as Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid’s Tale, would almost certainly enjoy this novel.  I found it scarily believable; a world that was all too easy to imagine, where fear of paedophilia and terrorism has curtailed people’s freedom to an extreme level.

It is not spoilerish to say that at one part, Angela finds herself outside London, as a refugee, and the story drew parallels with how asylum seekers are treated in the real world, with mistrust and fear.

The writing is very ‘clean’ – no words are wasted here – and it flows beautifully.  The different subplots tie together nicely and despite the subject, there is genuine humour here as well.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book, and will be seeking out Helen Smith’s other books.  Definitely recommended, especially to fans of dystopian fiction.

(I would like to thank the author, who sent me this book in exchange for an honest review. )


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Gina Davies, aka ‘The Doll’ is a pole dancer from Sydney, who yearns for a better life for herself.  To The Doll, all that matters is the pursuit of money and all the pleasures that it can being (such as designer clothes, accessories etc.).  One night, The Doll has a one night stand with a stranger named Tariq, who has disappeared by morning.  At around the same time, three unexploded bombs are discovered, and Gina discovers that Tariq is a suspected terrorist…and as someone who has been seen with him, she finds herself a suspected terrorist (the ‘unknown terrorist’ of the title).

The Doll goes on the run, while around her the media whips Sydney into a state of panic about the threat of terrorism.  An unsavoury journalist jumps on the bandwagon in an attempt to rescue his own flagging career, and soon the situation becomes a major news story, with Gina as public enemy number one.

This book can be enjoyed as a straightforward thriller, but there is a a subtext, showing how the media manipulate people’s fears, and how such fears give society justification for vilifying people, with nothing concrete to base their feelings on. Scariest of all was the fact that it is easy to see how such a situation could happen in today’s culture of fear.

It’s a fast moving story (despite taking place over only a few days); the first half however was more enjoyable for me than the second half, which seemed to get a bit bogged down by some overwrought prose.  It also felt a little preachy towards the end, but overall this did not detract from the story.

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