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Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them “safe”.
But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.
Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead.Amazon
Why THIS Book?
I read this book over Mother’s day weekend. It had been in my TBR pile for a while and I wanted something “mother” related that wouldn’t be as problematic as the last few mother/daughter books I had read (Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and of course Bastard Out Of Carolina – both for my podcast). Also, this another speculative fiction… and boy do I love me some speculative fiction!
Mildenhall is an Australian author and this book is very Australian. There were words I had to look up (like “ute”) and words that I had to adjust in my head for spelling (“tyre… like the car had a flat tyre” but overall I understood. It can be fun to spend some time with the language and slang of a culture not your own.
Thankfully, this author didn’t feel the need to explain and translate every single word (as happened over here…) And I appreciated that.
I did say speculative fiction, right? Well, it is… because we are in the future and there is future tech… and there is a lot of discussion about the ravages of climate change. A lot. More than expected in what some might mistakenly think of as a beach read / chicklit.
On the whole, I liked the world-building because it was so very plausible
But… since the atmosphere is also about tone… let me say that the tone of this book shifted about a bit. It was part woman on the run from big scary government… part mother-daughter bonding… part screed about the evils of climate change and a call to action before things get really bad… part romance… It tried to do too many things and sadly only did a few of them really well.
Plot / Characters
As stated above, the plot was a bit all over the place. The characters do cliche things at cliche moments and there is a fair bit of convenience and contrivance to get certain people into certain places… it seemed like things (and people and flashbacks…) all happened because, oh yes, the plot needs something right now.. Here you go!
The mother-daughter stuff was good, but a lot of the rest of it… just… was kind of there.
Eh. Ok. That’s harsh. It was interesting because there was a clock sort of built-in tension and as the part of the book in my right hand got smaller but we didn’t seem to be moving all that quickly toward a resolution… *I* had tension. And then… it ended. Kinda in an open-ended fashion, and no spoilers of course, but oy vey. I was not a fan. Lots of things left unresolved… but if this is Mildenhall’s attempt to start a series… well, you can count me out.
One other note re the title
What’s in a title? A lot actually. In this case… the title is… flawed. What fault are we talking about? Unless… it is like a faultline as in tectonic plates? Which… almost makes sense because there is a fair bit about climate change and the environment… but the only mention of anything related to this is slapped on at the end in a very roundabout way. I have no idea what the title meant or how it related… and the cover art is… like.. Laundry? Or something? A friend saw me reading this book and assumed it was a nonfiction treatise about negative mother stereotypes or something.
Would I recommend it?
Nah. There are better speculative fiction titles out there. There are better “on the run” stories out there. I am willing to bet there are better Australian climate change warning books out there too. Too long for a beach read, too scattershot for serious speculative fiction.
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?