17-year-old Dasha Gold, as the name suggests, belongs to the super-rich class who have a stranglehold on a London whose fractured future we see here. Her parents’ media corporation controls politicians and police alike but, for Dasha, this wealth and influence come at a price. Her father’s renown as a plastic surgeon is about to be further enhanced as he prepares to remodel his daughter as the Gold Corporation logo, with or without her consent.
When a specially chartered train carrying Dasha and her fellow Star Academy pupils is hijacked, she seizes her chance to escape this world where image is all and truth and justice are ignored. In the company of Latif – tagger and all-round maverick – she tries to find the woman who she has discovered is her birth mother.
This is a book made for a TV adaptation. Hamilton’s ear for contemporary street patois is unerring and her ability to paint an utterly convincing picture of a divided and dangerous city compelling. Latif’s friends and contacts are vividly and idiosyncratically drawn as they help the pair on their mission. Dasha’s parents have devised a TV hunt for their daughter, with a million pound jackpot and Latif’s attempts to navigate them both through the spy-maze of innumerable CCTV cameras is fast-paced and thrilling.
Hamilton finds narrative time to explore the issues of race and equality and gives readers a timely reminder where the cultivation of image at all costs can lead.