A reluctant heroine returns to fight the deeply entrenched corruption and greed of a futuristic society in which proprietary rights have trumped those of its individual citizens in this sequel to All Rights Reserved (2017).
Speth Jime struggles to find her footing after toppling the Wi-Fi network in her home of Portland, Vermaine. While she’s disabled the system that charges people for each word they speak, she’s also plunged the city into chaos. Car chases and zip lining across cityscapes are interspersed with weightier passages in which Speth and her diverse group of friends travel across the country, incrementally learning more about the history of the dystopian United States in which they live. This juxtaposition, while sometimes feeling a bit obvious, propels the story forward, and Speth’s standoffs with creepily evil, archetypical villain Lucretia Rog establish her as a vulnerable but tough narrator. Careful and cautionary worldbuilding includes factory farms where indentured workers’ children are born as property of the corporation and a militarized border between the U.S. and the country Téjico (formerly Mexico), including a huge concrete wall to keep immigrants out of the U.S. Speth’s Mexican heritage, alluded to in the first novel, is more visible in this one, with social commentary including the insidious ways people of color have been marginalized and exploited.
A powerful novel with a neatly wrapped-up conclusion. (Science fiction. 13-18)