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PB, 251 pages, Kristell Ink


Humanity has been upgraded.

In this cyberpunky near-future SF novel, anyone who refuses to have the government issue electronic chip implanted in their bodies is deemed to be non-complaint, and confined to the low-technology ghetto known as the Non-Compliance Sector. Shea Kelly works a bar in the Sector for a fat weeble named Frank, dodging the attentions of the slums rival gangs and secretly uploading information to an illegal newsfeed and hacking computers with her genius best friend Wynne. But when Danny Rose, the new thug in town, makes a grab for power in the Sector, Shea finds her world changes beyond recognition.

This is a smart, funny, fast-paced book, told in the first person present tense. That’s not a style I usually enjoy reading, but the book was packed with so much action and humour that after a few pages I became so caught up in the story that I stopped noticing. The characters are great, especially the women who take a dominant role in the story – as a short, myopic, frizzy-haired plump lass it’s nice to see a short, myopic, curvy, frizzy-haired heroine, even if Shea could probably break my arm with her little finger! And I was worried that her Breakfast Club style transformation at the hands of Wynne and secret bodyguard Nikki Sweet would result in a change in attitude for our heroine, but within a few pages she’s back in tracky bottoms and Chuck Taylors with her head inside a car engine, and all’s right with the world again.

The Sector is well thought out, though Daniels takes pains not to give too much away. We know Shea has a secret that has landed her in the ghetto, but we’re not sure what it is. We know the government are Up To Something (aren’t they always?) but what it is, is left a mystery. It’s stylishly done, we’re told just enough to keep us hooked, and to provide a well-realised environment, but there are no chucks of exposition, no spoon-feeding, and the mystery helps ratchet up the tension. It’s a slim book, but it’s well worth a read, and it ends on a proper cliffhanger.

It’s also available on Kindle right now for a mere £1.87 in the UK (Amazon), so you really have no excuse. Go and get it now – you have 20 seconds to comply….

And pop by later for an interview with Paige where she talks about female characters, robots, and Adam Baldwin….