Saturday, April 02, 2016

The Courier - Gerald Brandt


The Courier
A San Angeles Novel
Gerald Brandt
DAW
 
Futuristic Thriller/SciFi


In the year 2140, life looks both very similar and very different.  The area from San Diego to San Francisco has grown into a single enormous metropolis, called San Angeles.  The spread is not only outward, but upward.  There are now seven distinct Levels.  As each Level was constructed over the last, the wealthier citizens moved up, the poorer remained below concrete ceilings.  Some have ambient lights that dim at “night” and brighten to denote “day.”  Access to Levels Six and Seven is strictly regulated. There are generations of people who have never seen the open sky.  Of course, business continues.  There are three huge corporations that control much of everyday life.  These three are in constant competition.  And the competition is ruthless.
 
Kris Ballard, on her own at 16 after the deaths of her parents, lives on Level 2.  She ekes out a precarious living by working as a courier.  Since most, if not all, internet and electronic transmission of data can be monitored and intercepted; businesses still send hard copies of the most sensitive information.  Her workday is almost over when Dispatch calls Kris and asks her to make one last run.  Only the prospect of a good tip on both ends (and the threat of no work at all tomorrow) convinces her to take it.  The pickup goes as planned.  When she arrives at the delivery point, she enters an office to discover a brutal murder in progress.  Relentlessly pursued, Kris runs for her life.
 
The first part of the book is dedicated to Kris and her pursuit by someone who wants to eliminate her.  As the story continues, the focus widens and, for the first time, readers realize that there is a much larger scenario at play.  Kris is simply a loose end.  As the focus broadens, the author begins filling in the larger picture of a conspiracy that covers the planet, and extends beyond it.  The world-building here is done incredibly well.  The multi-layered society is both figurative and very literal.  There’s a real sense of dark and claustrophobia in the scenes in the lower Levels.  Once the story breaks out into the open spaces of the highest Levels, it’s easy to understand how overwhelming the whole thing is for a scared kid.  She’s a kid readers will root for; smart and capable even while dealing with a terrifying situation.  The narrative is very fast-paced and should appeal to those who enjoy scifi, action, and thrillers alike.
 
Rating: 8
March 2016
ISBN# 978-0-7564-1139-8 (hardcover)

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