A British import with dystopian-blockbuster ambitions.
A prologue briefly describes how overpopulation led to catastrophic climate change on Earth, which prompted the launching of a fleet of generation ships that are the only hope for human life. Seventeen-year-old racially ambiguous Chan Aitch hurtles through space in an interstellar transport called the Australia. Readers first meet her as she recalls accepting a knife from her dying mother to deliver the coup de grace. Unlike many of her genre ilk, Chan is the daughter of a well-respected leader of the “free people,” and now she defends her group against the viciously encroaching Lows and the Bells, the lower-caste people characterized respectively as “savages. Vicious, nasty, the basest parts of us” and “idiots. Wonks. Driven by impulse rather than anything resembling logic.” The other threat is ideological, as embodied by the Pale Women, an all-female religious cult. This information is delivered in an expository story told by Chan’s grandmother, Agatha, following which Chan takes up the story, narrating in the genre-pervading present tense through a violent though unilluminating exploration of class struggle to a sequel-setup ending.
In the end, this is just another in the overflowing “violently plucky heroine” sci-fi genre, an amiable though not particularly interesting book. (Science fiction. 14-18)