Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Posted By Lesley Sackett Winfield

This book is nominated for Canada Reads 2017. Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline. 

It's a quick read that brought up a lot of topics for further thought including genetic engineering, sex workers, big business, and more. There were a lot of great new technological elements in this story. The author was very creative which made this a fresh and new Science Fiction title. The setting and concept are what made this book worth four stars. It's well paced and written. I also liked that the story was set in New Arcadia, a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes. The author didn't just place the story in Canada and forget about it. Many Canadian political references and landmarks were used throughout, making this a truly Canadian piece of fiction.

However, I waffled between 3 and 4 for this rating. I was confused at times about what was happening and had to go back several times and reread sections again in order to understand what was going on. I had trouble picturing the new world at times, since many of the technologies were new and I had no frame of reference, which also made it hard to follow the plot. The overall concept of the characters and plotline was predictable. I felt that the youngest Lynch and the central 15-year-old protagonist sounded more like a whining 8-year-old most of the time. In fact, I think the story would have been more believable if Joel was 8 instead of 15. The other main protagonist, Hwa,  her story of self-worth and inability to love herself, was a great journey. However, by the end felt that her inability to see her value was overdone.

I'm glad to see it was nominated as a finalist for Canada Reads in 2017. It's nice to see genre fiction recognized!