Ahoy there me mateys!
afterparty (Daryl Gregory)
This novel is not me usual fare as it is a sci-fi novel set in the near future dealing with drug use and crime. I am not a fan of illegal drugs in any format. The closest I have come to being near any was having the campus drug dealers live next door to me one semester in college. All I know is that they were nice to my cat. But the book was An NPR Best Book of 2014 and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer which is where I heard about it. While I have many favorite authors, I am always up for finding new ones. Though I do not care about awards themselves, I have usually found the Campbell Award list to be diverse and interesting. So if a novel is on there, I might choose to give it a shot even if the topic or plot normally wouldn’t be my thing.
So I gave afterparty a whirl. I have to say that I rather enjoyed the novel. All of the characters are flawed and some are really crazy. But Lyda, the central character, was unique and engaging. In fact I liked all the characters in the novel in some fashion. The smart drug phenomenon is an interesting concept in and of itself. Those drugs being used to start a religious drug revolution was the hook that kept me interested. And boy are the consequences of drug use anything but good in the overall sense.
There are a lot of plot twists in this book. It is part thriller and part discussion of neuroscience and drug use. Add in questions about the realistic nature of hallucinations, a mystery of who is releasing drugs on the street, changes in technology, and getting around the law. What a mix. If you want to try a sci-fi novel that is not your average choice, then give this one a chance. I did. And I liked it.
The author’s website has this to say about the novel:
It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.
Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.
A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Afterparty is a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.
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