In a flashback sequence at the beginning of this novel a small boy asks the book’s (anti?)hero a question. At the time Kenstibec is horribly injured and hanging upside down from a chain, bleeding on the floor. He’ll be fine though – he’s already repairing. So the small boy looks up at him and asks “Are you on our side?”
It’s a question the rest of the book spends asking as we follow Kenstibec, the sardonic, engineered artificial lifeform (or “Ficial”) on a hazardous journey through a future dystopia that is teetering constantly on the edge of post-apocalyptic melt-down. Kenstibec takes a job driving another Ficial from the barricade of Edinburgh to the barricade of London. In between they must negotiate a nightmarish landscape, a shattered world and vicious (or is that desperate) tribes of real people (or “Reals”).
When I read Jon’s book on submission it was clear that this was no simple dark and brutally thrilling SF road trip thriller with our heroes bulling their way south in an armoured LandRover (which would have been quite fun itself) but rather a dark a brutally thrilling SF road trip thriller laden with a generous load of wit and intelligence. As Kenstibec heads south he’s also in search of his past and we’re taken into an investigation of just what went wrong between the Reals and the Ficials and who might be to blame.
This is a dark vision for sure but it’s a thrilling journey and a hugely intelligent and really beautifully written novel. Jon’s writing reminded me a little of Richard Morgan’s.
Indeed if Takeshi Kovac’s were to be driven through hell in an armoured LandRover I reckon he’d want Kenstibec at the wheel.
I hope you enjoy the ride.
Intrigued? We’ve got the first chapter to share with you below and if you are on Goodreads, you can enter our giveaway to win an early reading copy here. Be quick our giveaway ends on the 2nd June 2014.