In this sequel, freedom fighters go on the offensive against their fascist enemies in a post-apocalyptic United States.
An asteroid named Jurbay destroyed the western United States in 2063. The Third, a military government, took over the remaining 28 states and proceeded to eliminate any opposition. The regime employed Genetically Engineering Beings and the process of “locasa,” which can remove memories and sever a person’s connection to home and family. Now, in 2088, Avery DeTornada and other members of The United 28 continue to resist The Third in a land ravaged by disease and environmental despoliation. Avery; her lover, McGinty; her half-GEB son, Chapman; and the mentally unstable neuroscientist Pasha (among others) operate from “an abandoned zoo northwest of the Waters of Erie.” After five years of running, Avery’s group strikes a deal with Degnan, who controls the Dark Market deep beneath the Waters of Erie. He helps The United 28 access The Third’s operations through the Warrior Strip, a secret course that parallels the Dark Market. He reveals that Commander Dorsey, leader of The Third, possesses the torpedo-like “fishborn” weapon (“with a fin on the back end”), which only needs power to launch directly at Avery’s settlement. She suspects Degnan can’t be trusted, but what of her own people? In this second installment of a trilogy, Mansfield (Roll Call, 2015, etc.) shifts her focus from the space-operatic threat of GEBs and other genre tropes to the complex emotions of loving someone you can’t fully understand. Though Chapman is only 5 years old, his odd behavior makes Avery wonder, “Am I raising a son or a weapon pointing at me?” This question isn’t posed lightly in a nation that leads the world in gun-related deaths. Later, the author’s optimism bleeds through when the test of a fishborn rattles her heroes. McGinty’s affection prompts Avery to say, “How can you kiss me right now?” He replies: “In a world like this, every moment must be the best moment.” Concepts like Pepper, an unfinished GEB who’s pregnant and unable to give birth, and a nightmarish cliffhanger prove Mansfield has boldness to spare.
Radiant concepts, dialogue, and prose elevate this dystopian tale.