Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez, 2017) crafts a feminist, futurist Latinx dystopia.
Mega City appears to be the only urban center left standing after a massive earthquake known colloquially as the Big Shake, a place where ideals of a feminist eutopia have devolved into gang violence, economic inequality, rampant drug addiction, and callous objectification of men. In this world of toxic femininity, Nalah, better known as Chief Rocka, leads a group of teen girls in patrolling the streets and pursuing an elusive dream of residing among the elite. When an assignment from on high sends Nalah and crew beyond the borders, she is exposed to new ideas and long-buried memories which threaten the foundations of her life. While addressing many hot-button issues, gender identity and expression lie at the heart of the drama. The pacing comes in fits and starts. Bursts of staccato action, frequently violent, are contrasted with languid interludes of pensive, often redundant, introspection. After spending much of the book blindly loyal to Mega City, the protagonist’s inevitable change of heart comes with a rapidity once reserved only for the Grinch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this leaves many loose ends, ample hanging threads ripe for a sequel. Though characters’ ethnicities are never identified, the world they live in, which creatively flips the hallmarks of machismo on their head, is steeped in Latinx-Caribbean culture.
Intriguing premise but the verdict is still out. (Science fiction. 12-17)