I enjoyed this a lot. It is not that often that one comes across a book which is a light read but which also has something important to say. Nor is it common to come across something as well written and complex as this published in the indie sector. This is certainly one of my top five books so far this year (and there has been plenty of time for reading …)
The writing is assured and supple, and capable of telling a complicated tale. The tale it tells is of a modern dystopia ‘a couple of years from now’. But elements of this story are with us already. The story is immigration, the banning of it, the sending home of ‘illegals’, the modern slavery which is certainly with us already, and how we might replace the labour that’s being deported.
Does this sound a bit worthy? A bit heavy going? Not a bit of it. The story is light on its feet. The reader is treated to plenty of satire and irony in the thoughts, words and deeds of the narrator-protagonist, who is an ad-man. Ad-men see opportunity in everything. And this one is very good at what he does. Some of the aphorisms and insights are delicious. such as: “ … they want to understand the world but that’s not enough. If you ask them, they’ll tell you they want to change it. What they really most desire is to play with it, and they’re very serious about their play.” Or “ Ordinary people are like children. So … easily misguided. And they forget so quickly.” And there are some great slogans (as you might expect from a really good ad-man) such as “A job you care for, that cares for you.”
As well as Ritchie Morlan, the ad-man, the most rounded character is his daughter Nic. Ritchie would do absolutely anything for her. Nic is one of those people who always have a cause in hand, who have boundless energy if it’s on behalf of other people. Neither she nor her father are particularly likeable people – but they are demonstrably well-meaning and utterly believable. During the course of the book Ritchie’s status goes from high-flying creative at a top advertising agency to unemployed activist, to advisor to the country’s new Prime Minister. Nic’s goes from legal representative of a woman about to be deported, to debating a people trafficker on Facebook, to jail on conspiracy charges. Between them they achieve the most extraordinary outcome.
Could any of what this novel posits actually happen here? I like a book that raises questions, don’t you? And Taylor-Gooby isn’t afraid to provide answers to the questions he poses.