- Author: Claire North
- Publisher: Redhook
- Publication Date: May 2018
84K was my first foray into the writing of Claire North, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The description intrigued me, though, so I decided to give it a go. And wow.
This book made me angry. It made me despair. At times it almost made me lose hope, but there was always a thread of hope running through the text. In short, I loved this book.
The most frightening part about this book is that we aren’t really sure the time period it’s set in. It’s at least the future in England and probably the very near future. Money is everything. Is it profitable? It’s worth it. There is a company, which is owned by a company, which is owned by a company, all in turn and ultimately all owned by the Company. They rule everything essentially. The government and all that still functions normally, but everyone knows it’s the Company who really runs the country.
Crimes are audited. If the perpetrator can pay the fee, they go free. If not, they go to the patty line where they have to work odd jobs for the prisons–writing 5-star reviews for companies for example. Did the offender call themselves in? Discount. Was the victim a lowly nobody? Discount. Did the victim have health issues, physical or mental? Discount.
There is such blatant disregard for humanity that it’s sickening. The book does a fantastic job of portraying both the cruelty of the situation and the apathy expressed by the citizens. It does a very good job of showing the inhumanities without condoning them or, at the same time, being overly preachy.
There is a man called Theo Miller. That is not his real name. His friend Dani was killed. She needed his help with something. Taking down the Company maybe. But in this world, where the rich can pay to be stainless, that’s not so easy.
The plot’s not important. Well, it’s not the most important element. The characters and the world drive the story. The characters are incredible. You feel their pain…their apathy…everything. We see flashbacks and glimpses of pivotal moments. We begin in the present…maybe the future…of Neila taking the man known as Theo into her boat, where she lives. He has been badly wounded. The ambulance won’t come. Nobody will. She has no insurance.
The writing especially is spectacular. It messes with time. Time is…was…is
Sometimes the past becomes the future becomes the present. Maybe everything is the present. I’m not saying there’s time travel or anything of the sort. This book is speculative fiction in the sense that it’s a dystopian, not anything magical. (Well, there’s one small part, but whether or not that really happened is up to you, I’d say.) The book plays with the order of things, jumping around different moments of time.
I had to put the book down a few times. This is a heavy, bleak read. It’s a slow burn. At times, you may wonder what the point of it all is. I don’t think this book is for everyone. The writing has a stream of consciousness style that I personally loved, but others might prefer something more straightforward. Therefore, I would suggest reading it slowly. Don’t go in expecting a fast, action-packed story. 84K is the definition of bleak. It sheds a light on the side of society some would prefer to stay hidden. It is a worthwhile read. A spectacular one. One that will haunt you for time to come.
[I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]