Himself and I fell on this offering at Fantasycon last year, owing to the cover…
Shea Kelly had a brilliant career in technology, but after refusing to implant and invasive government device in her body she was sent to a modern-day reservation: a Non-Compliance sector, a lawless community run by thugs and organised crime. She’s made a life for herself as a resourceful barkeep, and hacks for goods on the black market with her best friend Wynne, a computer genius and part-time stripper. Life is pretty quiet under the reigning Boss, apart from run-ins with his right hand man, the mighty Quinn: until Danny Rose threatens to take over the sector. Pushed to the edge, Shea decides to fight back…
Set in a dystopian near-future, where a series of environmental disasters and illness have swept through the population, an increasingly controlling government decides to chip everyone. The story is unrolled with the punch and pace normally reserved for urban fantasy, right down to the first person viewpoint and feisty, kickass character. I really enjoyed this one and tore through it far too fast – although that won’t be a problem as we have the other two in the series.
Shea is a suitably gutsy, enjoyable heroine – I very much liked the fact that she has a loving father who worries endlessly about her and assists her in every way he can. I also like her knack for making friends and her loathing of bullies. She is saved from being unbearably good by also being judgemental and setting unrealistically high standards for herself – and being miserable when she cannot attain them. I also like the fact that she is a mechanic that loves working on old cars.
In line with the urban fantasy feel, there is also a romantic thread running through the story, though it isn’t resolved by the end. Quinn, the buttoned-up, ex-army vet who Shea clashes with every payday, becomes an increasingly important part of her life. So there is plenty of opportunity for grumpy exchanges, crossed wires and growing attraction. As this isn’t part of the main story arc, I was relieved that it didn’t slow down or unduly interfere with the overall pace of the plot, which whips along at a fair clip, anyhow.
All in all, this is a quirky, entertaining read and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Transition.