Brandon’s debut sci-fi novel depicts a stratified, dystopian world as it offers a vision of cooperation.
The story opens with the world in massive crisis. Climate change and the effects of overpopulation have begun to reach critical mass, and there’s nowhere near enough oil to supply the world’s needs. The unlikely beneficiaries of this calamity are the employees of the Solarbus company and people who already own its vehicles. Solarbus was committed to creating a sustainable, mobile way to live, and only those who have a sun-powered Solarbus motor home have a semblance of normal life after society’s collapse. In this post-apocalyptic world, women’s roles have narrowed immensely. Men work for the overarching Solarbus corporation, while women exist only as “Solarbus wives,” equivalent to homemakers. Brandon focuses on one family: Jeff and Eva Parke and their daughter, Clarissa, who wants more out of life and wanders the desert in search of excitement. The less fortunate people in society become Terfs, who scavenge and steal to stay alive. A cruel ritual, which exiles a woman who’s older than marriageable age, sets a chain of events in motion that will change the Parkes forever. Clarissa is kidnapped by a group of Terfs who want to convert her to their way of life; they give her a Terf man named Matthew for protection, and she struggles to adjust. Jeff and Eva are also kidnapped, and they receive a stunning revelation from the Terf leader. Brandon creates a fairly believable scenario for the end of society as we know it and for what might happen in the aftermath. Although her characters are bound by the constraints of their highly stratified world, they nonetheless feel deeply convincing. For a novel about the end of the modern way of life, the work is remarkably uplifting overall, and it ends on a note of pure hope.
A thought-provoking read that may soothe readers’ apocalyptic anxieties.