Both Himself and I are solid fans of her very successful series Earth Girl – see my review of the first book, Earth Girl. So we were delighted to hear that Edwards had produced the start of another series.
Amber is one of over a million eighteen-year-olds in one of the great hive cities of twenty-sixth century Earth. She’s about to enter the Lottery of 2532, which will assess her abilities and decide her hive level, her profession, her whole future life. Amber’s dream is to be level 10 or above, her nightmare is to be a level 99 Sewage Technician. When Lottery discovers Amber is a rare and precious telepath, she must adapt to a new life protecting the people of the crowded hive city. Her job is hunting down criminals before they commit their crimes, but she doesn’t know she’s being hunted herself.
Amber is every bit as enjoyable and sympathetic as Earth Girl Jarra – but I found her key position at the top of the pile even more credible. Telepaths provide a vital function in sensing lawbreakers – preferably before they commit crimes – and then their teams spring into action to scoop up the criminals. But these crack teams are a very well-kept secret and even her parents do not know what she does – only that she is a Level 1, living in luxury they can only guess at. Her warm, approachable first person voice means she avoids any hint of smugness and her chatty style gives us all sorts of important details about the world, without lapsing into ‘tell’ mode. It’s harder to pull off than Edwards makes it look.
Amber is supported by a team, which I enjoyed getting to know as we follow the tense action while they attempt to prevent a variety of crimes, producing plenty of page-turning excitement. Another strength in this entertaining read is the pacing. From following Amber as she goes through the barrage of tests she experiences to discover how she will spend the rest of her life, we then are immersed in her training programme, followed by the action of real crime-fighting. Which is when a major wrinkle occurs… I’ve no intention of venturing into Spoiler territory to reveal the major plot twist in the book. I loved this – not only does it satisfactorily raise the stakes and hooked me into reading faaar later than I should, given I was in major granny mode – but it reveals yet another layer of this far future world. It’s very nicely done.
The climax wraps up the action, though there is a dangling plotpoint which I’m looking forward to seeing addressed in the next book. All in all – another cracking read and the start of an exciting series from a writer who continues to produce thought-provoking and entertaining worlds.