SECTRI CITY is a city on the border of the Northern Union, divided into three parts. Sector A houses the wealthy native-born afraid of losing what they have, while Sector B contains second-generation immigrants struggling to get by, and Sector C’s desperate immigrant population have no votes, no power, and are kept strictly out of the other two sectors. Illegal migrants are known as “worms,” and hunted down without mercy for extradition. A Sector C migrant has gotten loose in Sector A, and a young Sector B taxi driver named Mohammed Khalil must make a dangerous decision, as to how much risk he will take in order to support his family.
SECTRI CITY is a disturbing look at a far-too-possible dystopian future, in which the present suspicion and fear of immigrants has been blown up to truly dangerous proportions, and a racist government runs a population mired in despair and distrust of all sectors except their own. Mohammed is a sympathetic character, and it’s easy to understand his motivations. The story starts out slowly, with an officer interrogating suspects in an arrogant and highhanded manner, but the second part of the story, told from Mohammed’s point of view, is much livelier and more engaging. However, the story ends just as things are getting really started, and there’s plenty of room to expand and extend Mohammed’s adventures – perhaps this will happen in sequels.
It would also be interesting to get to see more of the other characters interrogated and to hear their stories, as there are some intriguing possibilities there that are not exploited in the second section at all. The main failing of the book is a tendency to hit the reader over the head rather blatantly with its political message – for example, the interrogating officer in the first section is an absolute caricature of a smug power-drunk racist who can almost be seen twirling his mustache as he sneers at those he is questioning. Likewise, while the dark, oppressive atmosphere of Sectri City is a terrific way of reflecting its dark, oppressive political and social conditions, it is overplayed a bit too much, shouting its significance instead of simply showing it.
SECTRI CITY is a painfully-plausible dystopian novella which is a reasonable beginning in its own right, with substantial potential for future books exploring the stories left untold in this one.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader