Thursday 21 January 2021

Inscape by Louise Carey

Book Title: Inscape
Author: Louise Carey
Genre: Cyberpunk, Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Paperback from Publisher

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Plot: Warning: use of this gate will take you outside of the InTech corporate zone. Different community guidelines may apply, and you may be asked to sign a separate end-user license agreement. Do you wish to continue?
Tanta has trained all her young life for this. Her very first mission is a code red: to take her team into the unaffiliated zone just outside InTech's borders and retrieve a stolen hard drive. It should have been quick and simple, but a surprise attack kills two of her colleagues and Tanta barely makes it home alive.
Determined to prove herself and partnered with a colleague whose past is a mystery even to himself, Tanta's investigation uncovers a sinister conspiracy that makes her question her own loyalties and the motives of everyone she used to trust.
What did I think?

"Louise Carey's dystopian future is chillingly plausible." - Claire North.

That's the blurb on the cover, and Claire North is one of my favourite authors, which is why I wanted to review a copy of Inscape. As always I thank the publisher, Gollancz, for the opportunity.

This is Louise Carey's first solo book, and I must say, I hope she'll write more.

I wasn't sold at first. Especially the main character, Tanta, rubbed me the wrong way, mostly because it felt like she was incredibly meek and submissive. Her reaction to her mentor's praise made me cringe. I didn't think she could carry the story.

Turns out, this is all part of the plot. I can't say more without revealing too much, but I enjoyed Tanta's development a lot. Carey digs deep into developmental psychology and the story is utterly fascinating because of that aspect alone.

The book deals with important themes such as loyalty and, more importantly, how to manipulate and abuse said loyalty in a world where corporations and money matter more than anything else. "You care about them, but they don't care about you."

But Inscape isn't just about Tatana, it's a page-turning cyberpunk thriller, painting a horrific future. Carey's prose is smooth and reads well. Despite a future dominated by tech, the author uses neither technobabble nor infodumps. The reader's knowledge develops alongside Tatana's, each page revealing another piece of the puzzle.

I really liked this book. The pacing is somewhat slower in the first half but quickly picks up, and the story is immersive with excellent action scenes, and I recommend Inscape to fans of Deus Ex and Cyberpunk, and books like Gibson's Neuromancer.

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