Welcome to a city where everyone and everything is owned by corporations. This is a place where the outcasts are known as corpless, because they have no corporation to care for them. The city is known as Unilox. The book is Dissolution by Lee S.Hawke and it is way too easy to get sucked into this one. I'd be careful here folks. This is one of those "I sat down for a sec while my coffee was perking and thought I'd start it. Then I ended up half an hour late to work" kind of books.This one moves quick right up until the end and it's well imagined and engaging.
Dissolution is a highly Dystopic work. I like that about it. Society has gone too far to the uhh.. something. An all encompassing government (and in effect that's what the corporations in the book are) that exists to provide for their citizens and squish as much work out of them while owning all of the proceeds is Leftist. A totally unregulated economy is Rightist. A total lack of religion as shown in the book is Leftist. The society of the corpless on the edges of town with no real government who help each other without having to be told to are showing Rightist values. I don't know how to classify this one politically. I'm guessing that people on the edges of either side are going to see a lot of the other side in this work. I find it fascinating.
Be prepared to be shocked by this one. It's pretty edgy. The story starts with our heroine, Madeline preparing to be auctioned to a number of corporations. She's hoping to go for over a hundred-thousand credits, a "century" as she calls it. I don't do spoilers so I won't reveal what happens but it's nowhere near what she expected - and that's what launches the rest of the book. Things go from bad to worse to hopeful to "Wow, did that really just happen?" and it's the journey that makes it fun.
The characters in the book are awesome starting with our very own Madeline, who sees her world turned upside down and won't stop. She is resilient when many others would not be. She strips herself of everything she is used to. All of her comforts and advantages as an Experimental are cast aside when she needs to go dark to avoid the people pursuing her. She manages to thrive and succeed anyway. This is a young girl with the intestinal fortitude that I would hope for my own daughters to show in a situation as crazy as Madeline finds herself in. She's hardcore.
The rest of the cast is equally as interesting. Madeline's parents are very believable as people who want the best for their daughter and risk themselves and everything they have to get it. From her boyfriend who helps her, to his boss who is apparently part of some resistance movement. The good guys are the good guys. That's not to say that there isn't some nuance or that the actions of the characters don't make sense intrinsically but there is a clear line between those who are working for a better world and those working to support the status quo.
Part of the fascination of this book for me is that a lot of the people within the story are so steeped in their own society that they don't see what's wrong with it. Madeline begins the work excited because she is about to be auctioned off to a corporation. She dreams of bringing in a good price. Her parents wish her luck on her big day and assure her that she'll be bought by the corp that she desires. The librarian in the book is a member of the resistance (I think) and uses her monetary value to shield herself from harm. I approve of the woman doing whatever she could to defend herself, but I don't know that I would have ever thought to use the threat of a lawsuit to save my own life. Kudos to Hawke for writing an internally consistent story and making it work in just the right ways to keep the action moving and the story believable.
Despite all of this, the work has one major problem for me: It's too short. This is a one hundred seven page book that takes a HUGE leap on about page ninety-three. I don't want to go into details because it would spoil the ending but there needs to be something else here. I'm thinking some planning, some sneaking and some wiring for starters. I like the ending. I really do. I just think it comes up too quickly with too many of the details missing. I get the fact that this would have taken longer to write and edit, but I think it would have been worth it. I mean this as a compliment to the author. I want to see more of your work. I wish it were here.
Speaking of seeing more of Hawke's work, I'm hoping she writes more in this universe. There is a lot of potential here. Some of the characters in the work deserve their own books. I don't think we'll be seeing much more of Madeline, although it is theoretically possible. Still, the existence of a potential resistance in this environment is something I find exciting. I'm hoping that before too long there will be a story released that will fill in a couple of the blanks in this book. I'd love a chance to read through something along those lines.
Despite the fact that there are some things missing, I really enjoyed this work. Granted, it was short but I literally read it in less than a day. I just checked Amazon and Ms Hawke only has one other work out and that is a collection of short stories. I intend to pick that up in the not too distant future, but I'm really hoping for some longer fiction as well. She has the ability to do it based on what I just read. I'm hoping to see it happen soon.
Bottom Line: 4.75 out of five Uconns
Lee S. Hawke
Blind Mirror Publishing, 2016
Dissolution is available for purchase at the link below: