When the societal division of wealth becomes so wide that it can no longer be bridged, many look for an alternative. The rich get richer, the poor inherit the Earth and walkaway.
Author: Cory Doctorow | Publisher: Head of Zeus | Year: 2017 | Fiction | Paperback
Book 3 of 12 – By the mid-twenty first century the ultra-rich continue to flourish whilst the rest of society suffers from the ravages of climate change and industrial scarring. Serve the ‘zottas’ and know your place.
But in a future where anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life for no cost, an increasing number of people choose to drop out and walkaway. Away from rules, government, jobs and the daily grind, a new world order is taking shape and those that turned their back on convention begin to flourish.
When Natalie, the daughter of a high-flying zotta, chooses to cut herself loose from the trappings of the ultra-rich entitlement she’s grown to resent, she embarks on a journey into the land beyond the city where she discovers that walkaways aren’t hippy freeloaders, some are pioneers in research that could enable humans to cheat death.
The prospect of immortality is the one thing money can’t buy. As word spreads those at the forefront of the research become the targets of the rich who will do anything to ensure their legacy will last forever.
Book A Month 2018 – Book Two
Will reviews The Echo by James Smythe, a gripping science fiction tale of exploration that introduces horror elements that make for claustrophobic yet compulsive reading.
I’ve read a number of Cory Doctorow’s young adult novels, principally his ‘Little Brother’ series of books, and I’ve enjoyed them all as easily digestible palette cleansers.
You tend to know what you’re getting from the author as Doctorow’s novels generally revolve around a recurring theme – disenchanted youth rebelling against society, facing seemingly impossible situations whilst finding romance and hacking all the things.
Optimistically I thought that ‘Walkaway’ might offer something a little grittier. Advertised as an adult novel the book comes with a luring quote on the cover from legendary cyberpunk author William Gibson (Neuromancer).
Sadly my expectation of a complex utopian science fiction tale was not to be realised.
Whilst the author nobly attempts to depict a near-future where diversity and tolerance of culture, race and sexuality are the accepted norm, his vision comes across as whimsical and contrived.
He imagines a time where those without big-budget funding can still thrive in their pursuit of knowledge and scientific discovery. His premise is far-fetched and unconvincing.
‘Walkaway’ is a huge disappointment. Doctorow falls too quickly into his formulaic comfort zone. A small group of young adults rebel against the system in an effort to make the world a more worthy place. They face seemingly insurmountable resistance from ‘the system’ but prevail through a series of convenient coincidences whilst relying on their unique and specific individual skill sets. How lucky.
I couldn’t bring myself to care for the protagonists, I couldn’t despise the antagonists enough to root for the good guys.
The book reads like young adult fiction. Characters have the kind of names that might appeal to a teenage reader, but left me unengaged. The author has an annoying habit of exploring inconsequential moments or objects in excruciating detail which slows the pace of the story. He takes an age to establish relations and moments of significance lose impact as a result.
What we’re left with is a very long, very slow plod to a conclusion that fails to satisfy.
‘Walkaway’ is a novel that found me looking for excuses not to read it. It’s for this reason that the third book in my Book A Month challenge is only now being reviewed in early July.
‘Walkaway’ a painfully slow plod to an unsatisfying conclusion. 2/5
‘Book A Month’ is a challenge of sorts. In 2017 I decided I wanted to read more, my biggest hurdle was making the time. As a husband and father working a full-time and running The Unheard Nerd, there aren’t a lot of hours left in the day… except for those hours wasted on the daily commute.
With a potential 40 minutes available to me each weekday, I set myself a challenge. To read the equivalent of at least one book a month. Finding that I was enjoying the escapism afforded on the misery that is London’s public transport at rush hour, I began finding time elsewhere in the day to leaf through a couple of pages. On my lunch break in the park, for half an hour before bed.
Before I knew it I had closed the last page on my twelfth book before the end of August – and with a sense of accomplishment I continued my new habit and totalled sixteen books in the year.
In 2018 my goal remains the same as it was at the start of the previous year. Twelve months, twelve books. And so it continues…
Next month’s book…