By Claire North
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
What if your life were defined by a number?
What if any crime could be committed without punishment, so long as you could afford to pay the fee assigned to that crime?
Theo works in the Criminal Audit Office. He assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.
But when Theo’s ex-lover Dani is killed, it’s different. This is one death he can’t let become merely an entry on a balance sheet.
Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.
84k was my first experience with Claire North’s work. It is my understanding this is her pseudonym used for many of her adult fantasy stories. She has also published a collection of YA titles under her real name Catherine Webb and has works published under Kate Griffin. Quite honestly, I am still attempting to sort it all out. One thing is certain though, her writing speaks to me in a way I have missed. She has a firm working knowledge of dystopia and presents that to her readers on a very specific level. You can learn more about her and her work here.
The man called Theo works in the Criminal Audit Office. His days are spent crunching numbers. In a world where every crime has a value, he estimates the incurred fees of each criminal act. Pay the costs and you go free. Your debt to society has been paid. But when an old friend Dani is assassinated, he finds the math increasingly impossible. Something is just not adding up. In his efforts to find more worth in her death, he uncovers something much larger. How far is Theo willing to go to set wrongs right?
“The man whose name was sometimes Theo Miller had been twenty-two years old when they abolished humans rights. The government insisted it was necessary to counter terrorism and bring stable leadership to the country.”
What I appreciated..
- An alternative reality setting that is eerily familiar. This allows for full immersion on the reader’s part while maintaining that necessary level of discomfort that must be achieved in dystopian tales.
- North’s writing offers a unique and defining prose that supplies the warranted air of bleakness and struggle. It carries her story with what feels like a triumphant victory.
- Themes that explore the worth of human life and challenge societal structures and hierarchies.
- Solid character evolution that reminds us to look behind curtains. Change can often come in the most unlikely form and when least expected.
- A steadfast reminder to never lose sight of human rights and be ever diligent of our surroundings.
- Brilliant transportation of emotions from page to reader.
“I can prove it. I can prove they broke it. They broke everything. They broke the world.”
Challenges some may encounter..
- This is a heavy read that at times can almost feel tiresome. North asks the reader to think and work for it all. I have come to appreciate and expect that in true dystopian stories.
- The narrative is often supplied in incomplete or abrupt thoughts that while effective can feel disjointed and require an adjustment period.
- There are a several graphic (violent) but never gratuitous scenes.
84K delivers a certain level of difficulty and the dismal that is reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. It makes no promises of being an easy read, nor should it. And for that, it is ultimately incredibly effective. Delivering a pertinent and powerful theme, it succeeds in capturing and supplying the necessary elements of true dystopia. Equally intelligent and challenging, it is a brilliant addition to the genre that will surely leave a notable mark.
*I would like to thank Orbit Books for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.
Pairs well with a nice cup of English Breakfast and small splash of milk.
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