Set in an alternate present where the Civil War never happened and slavery persists in the Hard Four states of the South, this book is tied with Riddley Walker for best dystopia I've read. The many-named narrator and main character is a brilliant detective and bounty hunter with a painful past. The worldbuilding is subtle but right on, from beater cars made in South Africa and Pakistan to smiling Asian children in Southern cotton companies' clothing ads to a new Michael Jackson track. Everything changes when the protagonist goes to Indianapolis to find Jackdaw, a different kind of escapee. In order to break free, he eventually has to go back into the Hard Four. What he finds there makes him miss the good old days of slavery. This is the total package: subtle but brilliant dystopic worldbuilding, compelling main character, suspense, plot twists, and a moral center.

celinar's rating:
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