“The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.
Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.
When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.“
The setting is more than an interesting backdrop. The behaviors, objectives, and motivations of the characters aren’t rooted in a Western/white mentality but a South Asian diasporic one. There’s a great moment when Ashiva sees the American Province representatives and uses it as a way to knock American “superiority” down a few pegs. Of course the Americans would use their funding to create identical, beautiful, emotionless clones, and of course Ashiva would roll her eyes at them playing into their own stereotype…
Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.
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Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.