Lauren Beukes's latest novel, Afterland, isn't that far in the future - and is in fact disturbingly close to what we're living with now.
There's a pandemic - and what it does is kill only men. There are a few left and the government has them in captivity, testing them. It's been three year now - there are a few males who are immune. The female government has them in captivity, testing them. Miles is now twelve and is one of the few boys left. Stuck in the US when the pandemic hit, his mother Cole has been trying to get them back to their own country of South Africa. With the help of Cole's sister Billie, they have one last shot.
"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." And women. Billie has a different plan for Miles.
What follows is a gut wrenchingly tense, hold your breath dangerous, edge of your seat chase. With every corner Miles and Cole turn, there's another complication, problem, roadblock. For in this new world, everyone has their own agenda.
The characters were so well drawn. Twelve year old Miles rang true and Cole's love and determination to save her son is palpable. But Billie. Ohhh boy, Billie is, as my gran used to put it, a piece of work. Her thinking is skewed to begin with, but a bump on head amplifies her crazy. And along the way both Cole and Billie meet and travel with other groups of women. Just as - or more - scary than Billie.
And is Beukes's imagining that far fetched? Nope, not at all. Separating parents from their children, holding people captive against their will, a sickness across the world and more.
Beukes had me from first page to last. Would you like it? If you liked The Handmaid's Tale with a side of Mad Max, you'd love Afterland. I could see this one as a movie. Take a look - here's an excerpt of Afterland. his was a first read of Lauren Beukes for me. I think her writing is absolutely fantastic, so I'm off to hunt down her first two books. And I'll eagerly awaiting the fourth!