Verdict: While certain characters shine, DENIAL is a slow and patchwork start to a dystopian science fiction series.
After a global economic meltdown, characters within the world of DENIAL must adjust to the new reality by utilizing innovative means of survival.
A group of eco-activists work to release dolphins that can communicate from their cages. A family, headed by Ayşe and Anosh, gets by in the new jobless, lawless world by harvesting their own food and rigging up their own “hacktivist” alternative Internet, “the Mesh.” A young girl named Stella, living with her mother on a floating Tuna farm run by a Nipponese-Prussian conglomerate, tries to make friends. Strapped for cash, Keith swallows his pride and accepts a soulless job from a contemptible friend.
If these disparate narrative strands ever fit together, it’s not in this book. DENIAL is the first book in the Singularity’s Children series, and readers waiting for crossover plots or an exciting showdown between character groups will likely have to read subsequent books.
DENIAL introduces readers to a fascinating near-future world and crafts unique, sympathetic characters. The reader aches for Stella and cheers for Anosh’s family. Although not all characters develop beyond two dimensions, these two storylines in particular are richly developed. The simple scenes of life after global collapse feel unsettlingly real: this is no idyllic vision of the future. The tone leans toward the dark and melancholic, and there are occasional interjections of commentary on the state of the world that read straight out of a doomsday manual. Still, subtle details, large cliffhangers, and a desire to see resolution with these strong characters makes flipping to the next book an easy choice.
But DENIAL is disappointing as a stand-alone novel. The book fails to answer the big “Why” of fiction writing: why are we reading about these people, at this time? Nothing connects these characters. There is no singular event propelling the plot. Instead, the novel is comprised of vaguely stitched-together events. At their best, these events are intricate visions of a near-future and realistic portrayals of human ingenuity in the face of an unraveling reality. But together they read more like a random jumble of activities than a coherent stand-alone novel. I also wished there had been a map at the beginning of the novel, or the author more concretely explained the geographical setting of these storylines, as the vague setting often set me adrift in this world.
While certain characters shine, DENIAL is a slow and patchwork start to a dystopian science fiction series.
~Danielle Bukowski for IndieReader.