This is my third Claire North book, and one thing that I liked about it is how different it is from each of the other Claire Norths I’ve read. It’s a dystopian novel set in a not too distant future where capitalism has gone crazy and monetary value is given way more weight than human rights. The hero, Theo, works in an office assigning fees as punishments against crimes – to the rich, these fees are worth it and crimes, even murders are just transactions that they pay for with little thought. For the poor, the fines are so cripplingly expensive that many have to sell themselves to indentured servitude to pay them.
When Theo discovers he may be a father, and that his ‘daughter’ is enslaved he realises the devastating effect of his work on real people and sets out to rescue the child and even try to take down the system while he’s at it.
The writing style of this book is really interesting (some might say, ‘arty’). I have mixed feelings about it, because I did get a bit confused at times, (although everything came together and made sense to me by the end) but on the other hand I really liked it.
The characters’ thoughts and speech often trail out mid sentence, so where we are used to reading neat complete sentences, instead we get beginnings and snippets and jumbled phrases, and while this maybe takes more effort from the reader to parse and understand, is it not more true to life? I have often thought fiction is too neat – people make speeches or think profound essays that I don’t come out with off the top of my head, so why should they? So I think, well done, Claire North – good for you.