Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Book Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Pros: creepy premise, realistic characters, fantastic world-building  

Cons: little action, all but one plot revolves around interpersonal relationships

When Rob kills Winter West in a car accident after a bad break-up with his girlfriend Lorelei, she's sent to Cryomed's 'bridesicle' facility, where she has the chance to attract a rich man willing to pay for her revival.  

The book is built around the award winning novella, "Bridesicle".  Scenes dealing with Mira, the oldest woman in the bridesicle program, are interspersed with the actions of the other characters.  It never feels out of place, and as the story progresses, the novella is actively pulled into the larger narrative. 

This is a book about the complexity of relationships - between friends, family and lovers.  It's a book about people and how they act and react to different situations.  It's about death and bringing someone back to life - how that act changes them, changes you.

McIntosh has created a cast of characters that feel like people you know in real life.  From the attention hog Lorelei, to the utterly depressed and despondent Rob, doing all he can to keep a promise.  Veronika, who knows she's not glamourous enough for the guy she loves, and Lycan, a super shy genius, who has trouble talking to women.  And the bridesicles, Mira and Winter, trapped in a living death, desperate to get out, not knowing when or if they'll be revived again.  These are all people, unhappy with life and unsure of how to make things better.  As their stories weave together they grow, change and learn.  And their stories touch you.

The world-building is top notch, taking into account all of the little things that are there but we don't always notice.  For example, there's no current day slang, it all pertains to recent tech in the Minus Eighty world.  Similarly, one of Lorelei's boyfriends takes on her speech patterns in an effort to impress her.  The tech itself is dependant on your status/wealth, with the characters occasionally passing through areas of the city (futuristic NY) that are poorer than others so you get a real feel for the entirety of the world of this future.  Even the cryogenics facility is class based, with the rich getting in and only the most beautiful of those uninsured women making the bridesicle program. 

This is a brilliant, heart-wrenching story set into one of the most realistically portrayed futuristic worlds I've read.  If you want a lot of action and adventure this isn't for you.  If you want a book about how humans treat each other, and why, then I highly recommend this.

And as a side note, the cover is beautiful.  Pictures don't do it justice.  Half of the image is on the book jacket, the other half on the vellum slipcover, giving the book an ethereal feel.  Here's a post on how it was made.

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