The modern USA has been divided into three countries by 2098 – the Confederate States of New Jerusalem, the United Socialist States of America, and the Randian Republic of Atlantis, a libertarian utopia founded by the secession of Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona. In the RRA, individualism is taken so far that charity is scorned, government functions are all privatized, and even the word “we” is banned, replaced by “I and you”. Sara Storm is a young woman from Boise, just graduated from John Galt University, steeped in her culture’s ideals, ready to begin her adult life with a new job and a new fiance. But her experiences in the real world lead her to question everything she knows as her love life, her working life, and even her country threaten to crumble around her.
The world-building here, if unsubtle politically, is rather well done – the author does not stint on the little details. The miniaturized orcas are a particularly charming touch. The illustrator, Lucas Duimstra, has a stark, dramatic style that goes well with the story’s political tone. The difficulties of the RRA are given believable antecedents in the country’s ideology and its natural consequences, and Sara is a likeable character, showing admirable resilience in the face of disaster. The plot is lively, with enough twists and turns to keep it entertaining, particularly at the end.
The political message, however, is blatant and unsubtle, with a rather black-and-white political viewpoint. Whether this is appealing to the reader or obnoxious will no doubt depend on one’s own political perspective. Most of the minor characters are essentially extremist propaganda-spouting caricatures, with only a few having more three-dimensional personalities. While this is accounted for by the story, it still becomes tiresome at times. At times, there are hints of things going on – like the hunting of feral humans – which perhaps deserve more plot attention than the book had time for. As they are, it seems as if they were just brought out to horrify Sara – and the reader – and then dropped.
I AND YOU is a sharp and vigorous political satire, well-drawn and reasonably deftly if unsubtly handled. As with most political satires, though, it will probably appeal primarily to those who agree with its perspective already.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader