A dystopian sci-fi YA novel about a teenager whose unexpected discoveries hold the promise of a revolution against a totalitarian regime.
In compelling prose, debut author Hughes weaves an intriguing story of an epic battle of good against evil. Readers will find the plot easy to follow but not overly simplistic as they accompany the teenage protagonist in his existential campaign against the hegemony of the Sovereign Regime. Set in 23rd-century Los Angeles, the story immediately emphasizes the totalitarian nature of the worldwide regime, introducing Goro as he narrowly escapes SR operatives with his brother, Josiah, and friends Cory and Alex. Readers soon learn the source of the SR’s power and control: a zettabyte identity chip implanted in everyone’s right wrist. The technology records every fact of a person’s existence, and this has caused a resistance movement to emerge. Unbeknownst to Goro, he has information about the identity chip that contains the seeds of its destruction. It’s only when he accidentally eavesdrops on a conversation between SR authorities and his father that he comes to understand that he holds the power to destroy the chip. The promise is realized in a nail-biting conclusion in which he and his friends attempt to sabotage the ruling power’s central computer. With its convincing, engaging characters, Hughes’ novel is certainly entertaining, yet it also will give readers pause about a future in which a single authority has too much power. The author also challenges readers to consider themes of ethnicity, youth empowerment, and social and moral values. Secular readers may find the subtle but tangible religious undertones irksome, as Goro variously praises and gives thanks to God with increasing frequency as he heads toward a climactic confrontation with the villain Sheitan (the Arabic word for “devil”). However, this is a minor quibble given the book’s taut writing, credible colloquial dialogue, and dark portrayal of a possible future world.
A well-crafted thriller that offers both a warning and hope for the future.