London, 2060: Following a series of deadly pandemics, devastating environmental disasters and a violent surge in cyber terrorism, the UN has made it compulsory for every tax paying citizen to login to the Perspecta Universe: a totally safe, pollution free, environmentally friendly virtual reality world.
Eighteen years later, ‘The Upload’ is complete, and billions of people all around the world exist in massive dormitory complexes surrounding the major cities, all totally unconscious of the crumbling world around them. Apart from the renegades, the ‘Offliners’ who live in London’s silent wasteland, making the disused Piccadilly Circus Tube station their home: a fully self-sufficient, subterranean community.
When Josh ‘Kid’ Jones, a young Offliner, discovers that an antiquated piece of technology called an ‘iPhone left to him by his father seems able to communicate with the past through social media. He strikes up a friendship with Isabel Parry, a 16-year-old living in 2021, and the two begin communicating through time and space via Instagram. But what Kid and Izzy don’t realise is that by doing so they are not only changing their own fate, but also the fate of the rest of the world…
Sebastian de Souza is an actor, screenwriter, singer, musician, producer, and now an author! Recognisable from shows such as 2020's massive hit 'Normal People', and the brilliant 'The Great', he's clearly a big talent and, rather annoyingly, proves here that his talents extend to writing too!
Of course, a near future dystopian sci-fi read set in my home city of London was always going to be an easy sell to me - but de Souza has crafted a remarkably gripping tale that, rather surprisingly for a book that comes in at just over 600 pages, does not drag in the slightest - instead it takes the reader by the hand and pulls them through a tense, surprising, and thoroughly satisfying adventure.
All of the best science fiction takes cues from the real world - and that's precisely what de Souze does here - drawing on various areas such as pandemics (fitting...), polution, and consumerism, to create a world that feels at once distant, and yet entirely possible.
Josh Jones is the Kid of the title - and he leads us through this tale with a distinct, likeable voice, and a steady hand. He's a fantastic viewpoint for the reader to explore this world, and I'll be very keen to read about him again in whatever form the Offliner series takes next.
Thrilling, extremely well written, and packed full of high-concept adventure - Kid is a rip-roaring read and one I'll be highly recommending.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy