These two become uneasy allies after both escape the city. The drone, or "mod" (modified human) Animkii, had been banished an indigenous tribe for breaking a taboo. Mica, meanwhile, survived a plague brought to her family by a different mod and hates and distrusts Animkii as a result. Gilchrist brings urgency and inventive power to the cast’s convictions and resentments, the worldbuilding driving character and offering opportunity for vivid, unsettling setpieces. Their partnership takes them to the bowels underneath the city and its dens of corruption, the sterile and dehumanizing halls of the Technocrats themselves, and finally to the bitter cold of the Witherlands, the home of Animkii's people.
Gilchrist builds to memorable twists before the climactic, world-shaking battle as they strive to prevent the ascent of the After Lord. The leads often face harrowing situations, but Gilchrist finds clever ways to extricate them. Her attention to detail makes each environment vividly spring to life, but never at the expense of narrative momentum or the protagonists' complex backstories. Reversals and betrayals shock but make sense given the clues the reader is provided. Despite the cliffhanger ending, GIlchrist still provides a thoroughly satisfying first entry.
Takeaway: Standout post-apocalyptic debut of modded humans and Technocrat overlords.
Comparable Titles: C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust, Hailey Piper’s No Gods For Drowning.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-