Karp returns to the technocentric autocracy of Those That Wake (2011) armed with the same angry characters and exploring the same gadgetry issues, though with a large dose of conspiracy theory added this time around.
Mike is gone, and Jon Remak’s lost in the neuropleth, but Mal Jericho and Laura Westlake still manage to negotiate daily life in a radically altered New York City that’s characterized by a heightened police presence, an absence of bookstores and the invisible, controlling hand of the Old Man. Though separated by faulty memory, Laura and Mal both have companions to assist them as they work to recover their forgotten pasts. As the Old Man begins his mental maneuvering to seize a tool that will allow him to control every mind on Earth, Laura and Mal ascend the Lazarus Towers for a neuropleth battle. Mal’s consistent ability to take punches and Laura’s obsessive focus on interpersonal connections keep them from advancing as characters. Two other characters seem meant to be foils, but Rose’s fragility and Aaron’s blasé approach to social cues are too one-dimensional to be effective. Vanishing bookstores, cancer-causing cellphone implants and omniscient Librarians add a dusty-feeling paternalism to the straining prose that fights and sexual creepsterism (sadly, sex is presented more negatively than otherwise) simply can’t overcome.
It’s gone from bland to worse. (Dystopia. 14 & up)