Despite the grim premise, the quirky characters lend a whimsical feel to the story, and Lahey is clever and inventive in imagining new technology while still dealing with relatable problems—the self-driving car won't let you leave without giving it a rating, and a hologram call still has trouble connecting. Some cultural aspects of this engaging story’s future may strike readers as discordant (three decades into the future, the movie Frozen still has cultural relevance, but people must explain the name "Einstein”), and the urgency of climate change see-saws: the planet’s lost clouds and the Antarctic ice shelf, but the main characters’ lives seem insulated from the consequences. The final revelation of who has been using the time portal, while not out of place thematically, is somewhat abrupt.
Lahey does, however, compellingly showcase 2050s technology, from homemade telekinesis machines to antigravity trucks. The plot builds slowly but deliberately, ratcheting up the interpersonal stakes before escalating sharply into a gunfight and an exciting high-tech chase that all culminates in a wilderness survival trek. Alternately funny and philosophical, this story paints a vivid, high-tech world while still packing an emotional punch.
Takeaway: This near-future story of a world ravaged by climate change will delight lovers of both romance and action sci-fi.
Great for fans of: Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A