Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Review: Hedon by Jason Werbeloff

Hedon Hedon by Jason Werbeloff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the best things about having a Kindle is the free offers that are constantly flung onto the internet. This lets me take a chance on a book I've never heard of before, by an author I've also never head before, at no cost to myself except for time.

That's how we find the diamond in the rough.

Hedon is a creative take on the overpopulation themed post-apocalypse. It's REPO! The Genetic Opera meets Logan's Run, complete with life or death games for the amusement of the masses, and repossession of things one would think cannot be repossessed. In this case, memories.

The year is 2051 and for the good of the world, society has been divided into two castes, separated by a wall. On one side is the metropolis known as Shangri. Filled with brothels and opium dens and porn, people can live like kings, as long as they're happy and spread that happiness around.
On the other side is where the destitute live, the Breeders. Those who must make the best with what they have.

When married Breeder couple Cyan and Gemini win the lottery and are allowed access to Shangri and permission to have a child, they think their dreams come true...

The author has created a vivid world, filled out by great characters. Each are distinct with rich back stories that are gradually pieced together. The villain is interesting and a relentless force.

It's unpredictable. I don't mean that there are twists for the sake of twists, I mean that where the story begins and where it ends are two very different places, but the progression of events are fluid and organic.

The economics of the world are interesting. The more good deeds you do, the more altruism points you get. Then you can spend those, your hedons, for pleasure. But never take more than you give, or the Tax Man will come to collect.

The idea of forced homosexuality, while not unique, is interesting. Especially if you assume it's a natural outgrowth of "What if homosexuality is a biological switch nature flicked on to control the population?"

There were a few tiny things that caught in my craw though.

Every time I read "hedon", I followed it up with "Apply directly to the forehead". This is my problem and I need to deal with it in my own way.

There was a character called Mascara because of his heavy mascara. No one knew his name so he was described as "Mascara", as one would say "the boy" or "The tall man". Later, he introduces himself to another character and says his name is Mascara. It just threw me a bit because up until that point the author was doing a good job keeping things like that in check.

Some of the violence was to cartoonish levels with very little commentary. People are slaughtered left and right like the Unstoppable Juggernaught was racing through and nothing...happened. No commentary on the slaughter, no people mourning, no "My cabbages!", nothing.

None of these things were too much to distract from my enjoyment of the story though. A solid, fun, at times depressing, story. I recommend it for those who love dystopia but need it drawn with a new set of crayons.

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