Adventure travel in the dystopian future involves braving killer ticks and drug-farming rebels.
“By the time you feel the itching, the female miner tick has created a tiny cavity under your skin and settled into place….Over the next several hours, the area around the bite will erupt in hundreds of pustules.…If you don’t scratch the pustules open yourself to try to soothe the itch, the miner ticks will eventually tear their way out.” This is Andy, a guide for Outer Limits Excursions, lecturing the trainees in his tour group, “a bunch of people with more money than sense.” Since the advent of these horrific ticks, the U.S. has receded into walled zones, isolated by both chemical and physical barriers. Outside the walls are many things these tourists have never seen before—“sunrise from a rock precipice. A hawk circling over your head.” There are also settlements of rebels who would rather face the tick problem than submit to the limitations of life in-zone. Among the travelers are a well-known country music star and his bartender girlfriend; the boy genius who invented Pocketz, an important financial app of the new society; a Japanese electronics tycoon and his sister; and Marta Perrone, the wife of a wealthy businessman who is also both a crime lord and a rising political power. Marta has been sent to spy on the boy genius for nefarious purposes, but soon she will lose all interest in doing her husband's bidding. Jones’ (The Next Time You See Me, 2013, etc.) darkly clever worldbuilding creates a nightmare that seems far from unthinkable, from the bug-borne health crisis and climate issues to anti-abortion legislation (they call it feticide) and severe socio-economic division.
It’s The Hunger Games meets The Godfather meets Robin Cook, with female characters playing all the key roles. Hell, yeah.