Well, that was engrossing.
It was after a long time that I felt like picking up a dystopian novel, and I’m glad I did.
Although, I’m not 100% certain that ‘America Inc.’ is dystopian in the broadly accepted meaning of the word. I mean, the future in the story is different (and not exactly bleak), but it has enough to connect it to our world for it to seem all too plausible.
This is an Orwellian tale for the modern reader, with capitalism replacing ideology, and peppered with cautionary advice.
It’s nearing the end of the 21st Century, and the world as we know has long since ceased to exit. After a crippling economic collapse in the third decade of this century, corporations have taken over the world.
There are no countries anymore, just corporations (America Inc., India Inc. You get the picture); no citizens, only employees. Corporations and their cities (subsidiaries?) are governed by CEOs. Gross incompetence is a capital crime.
At the heart of it, America Inc. is a pulsating whodunit wrapped around a tale of Machiavellian intrigue and political grandstanding.
A series of devastating terrorist attacks against the global trading regulator, Intercorpex, threaten to cripple the world economy.
It’s a story as old as time — rebellion against the established order by any means necessary. Often by people once part of that very order.
This time, the group of insurgents wants a return to the life of old, where poverty existed, but people had true liberty.
The story is brilliantly, unusually (at least for me) told — unusual in that each character gets a first person POV. Each character has a distinct voice. This is incredibly hard to pull off — not only to give each character his or her voice, but to maintain and develop it with the story. It’s impressive in scope and execution.
The characters are also well-developed from those in the shadowy halls of power right down to those in the trenches. I will not go into too much detail, as the joy of the book is to grow with the characters.
I will, however, say that I found myself drawn to Chief Inspector Zyree, a no-nonsense, hard-nosed investigator who was ostensibly given carte blanche to solve the mystery of the terrorist group, which he does in a nerve-wracking finale.
Given that this is the first part of the ‘Black Swan’ trilogy, the story ends on a satisfactory note. I look forward to continuing the series.