A feminist activist, born in the midst of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, initiates a series of systematic strikes against the American nuclear industry.
Set in 2011, Reich’s (I, Judas, 2011) thriller introduces the protagonist: Varyushka Cash, a 25-year-old extremist whose personal crusade against nuclear energy is fueled by punk rock, a strict adherence to feminist ideology and a disdain for symbols of masculinity. After her parents disappear in a murky series of events following the tragedy at Chernobyl, Cash is taken in by three older women who offer her a family structure that is fused with an indoctrination into feminist thought. As this loose-knit family falls into disarray, Cash forms a lesbian relationship with one of the women. After losing her partner, Cash heads to the New Mexico desert, where she reflects on her past and plans her mission. Taking a Vietnam veteran who has undergone extensive gender reassignment surgery as her only friend, Cash uses rural New Mexico as her home base for beginning to target nuclear sites and the high-powered executives driving the nuclear industry. In the process, she begins a cross-country spree of violence that takes her simultaneously into an imagined past and an unforeseen future. Along the way, Cash is pursued by an amoral CIA hit squad led by an unflinching, and somewhat one-dimensional, veteran of covert affairs who represents the paradigm of masculine forcefulness.
The feminist heroine is a fresh twist on the thriller genre, but the story doesn't deliver much excitement.