Hunt sets this powerful novel in a dystopian future with populations even more polarised than they are in contemporary society. Nova, a homeless orphan with phenomenal technological skills, is befriended by Patches, a horribly disfigured man who is a clever fixer, mover and shaker and put to work leeching money out of people’s bank accounts through their wristhubs, implanted technological devices which handle financial transactions and through which the neural transplants in everyone’s bodies are accessed. The reader is plunged headfirst into this unfamiliar and often shocking environment in which Nova lives and has to come to an understanding of it by immersion, rather like learning a foreign language quickly.
And what a language! Hunt provides a glossary but the best way to understand this world is to experience it first hand and that is what the reader has to do. The poor and disenfranchised live in the disused and derelict lower floors of the towering skyscrapers whose upper floors, away from the poisoned earth and water, the blind animals who have never seen daylight far below, are populated only by the rich and powerful. And the richest and most powerful of all is Grale Inselberg, who has made her father’s company, Bliss Inc, so untouchable that it has the potential to control the lives of all human beings.
Nova feels that she has been given an opportunity to change this world, to stop the annihilation of free-thinking people, to shape a fairer world for all-and she seizes it. However, Phantom, the most proficient of all users of technology uses her, Patches betrays her and she narrowly escapes with her life. However, in all this confusion and violence there are the seeds of hope for a better future. Nova falls in love with what she believes is Inselberg’s daughter but who is really an advanced A1: why should this love been valued any less than that which occurs elsewhere? Nova wins the battle to defeat Inselberg but realises that she cannot just abandon those in the Gut, where the disenfranchised live. She returns, but this time to lead the rebellion which she hopes will topple Bliss Inc for ever-and she brings together those people who have nothing to offer them the chance to change things for the better-and for good.
This book is crying out for a sequel-let’s hope that Hunt sees fit to write one, and soon.