The Scarlet Pimpernel relocated to a dystopian United States.
Seventeen-year-old Marguerite Singer is a newly privileged resident of Washington, D.C., in 2069. Her rage-filled, anti-elite vids went megaviral last year, so she was brought into the presidential campaign of populist candidate Wynn Sallese. Now this poor, fatherless, white girl from Houston lives in the nation’s capital, one of the few wealthy havens in a shooting-ravaged, poverty-filled U.S. Marguerite’s classmates, wealthy technocrats, despise her for her role in Sallese’s anti-technocrat campaign. Perhaps, however, their fear isn’t entirely the ridiculous paranoia of the wealthy. As Marguerite studies the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in school, disturbing parallels spark across Washington. Rich classmates at Clinton Comprehensive Education Academy disappear even as rumors surface of civil liberties violations, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Only one classmate is fearless in the face of tyranny: Percy Blake, the fashion-obsessed, white, femme nephew of the French ambassador, has a secret life as a not-entirely-human rebel. Recognizable characterizations (the self-funding, populist, anti–foreign trade businessman-made-president; the humorless, unlikable, pantsuit-wearing competent woman who cleans up his mess) beg comparisons with current affairs but serve no clear purpose in the narrative.
As a retelling of Baroness Orczy’s classic, an enjoyable romantic adventure. As an early entry in what will presumably be a long string of dark futures inspired by the 2016 presidential campaign, lacking in depth and clarity. (Science fiction. 13-16)