Author: Zoe Robertson and Jesse Lifé
Title: Insatiable Machine
Publisher: Fernwood Publishing/Roseway Publishing
Synopsis: Wave goodbye to the American dream.
Just a heartbeat into the future, America is being dragged to its knees by social unrest and economic inequality. The furious pace of technological advancement has made medicine capable of near-miracles but has also enabled the widespread displacement of workers by automated systems. As unemployment and poverty levels rise to dangerous heights, those with fortunes to lose are pitted against those with nothing left. The threat of rebellion looms greater every day.
When a chance meeting in a Washington, D.C., slum leads journalist Richard LaPointe to a heinous discovery, he and his wife, internationally respected physician and medical technologist Allie MacKay, start down a path that exposes just how far those in power will go to protect themselves from the impending crisis. When their daughter, Skyie, an online video activist sensation, gets involved after pulling off a spectacular protest stunt, they are all plunged into a world in which no one is safe.
What they find behind the curtain is not an America made great again. It is an empire in ruin.
I received Insatiable Machine from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The synopsis for Insatiable Machine caught my eye and I was thrilled to be approved for an ARC.
I wasn’t certain when I started it. It took a few chapters to get into it: the narrations changed in quick succession and it was tricky to get a feel on who were the good guys and what was wrong with the country. There was a lot of technology and concepts introduced and I wasn’t sure what was going on.
All that changed after a couple of chapters. You connect with the characters, you come to grips with the technology and you fully establish who are the bad guys. Once you reach that point, you’re in for an intense and gripping read. I couldn’t put it down.
Thrown into a crisis, the LaPointe family find their normality shattered. Allie is a scientist dealing with the realisation her developments have been used without her consent – with shocking consequences. Richard is a journalist in a world where machines write the stories, uncovering a darker side of life outside the city. Their daughter, Skyie, might flout authority, but she will do whatever it takes to make things right.
The Borders collected souls. It did not give them back.
While there are a number of notable secondary characters, this family were my favourite. All were introduced to the crisis independently – it affected their entire family but they had personal reasons for wanting to see it through. No one felt like the odd member caught up without a say.
Out of the other characters, Felix – a computer genius – and Davis – part of the military – stood out for me. Felix might be self-conscious, but give him a problem to fix and he won’t stop until it’s done. While Davis might be used to obeying orders, he still thinks for himself and won’t become just another face in uniform – which I loved.
The initial chapters are all over the place, but once it comes together, the pacing is fast and the tension high. Despite the technological advancements placing this book in the future, it’s the type of chilling story you can imagine taking place as countries obsess over wealth and power compared to caring for society as a whole.
I empathised and connected with the characters quickly; when the violence escalated, I couldn’t put it down. The changing narration helps keep a fast-pace and seeing both side of the fight makes it hard to predict what will happen next – or, indeed, if everyone will make it through the struggle.
Insatiable Machine had a very clear structure – introduction, heightened tension, conclusion. It was a satisfying end as well, which seems a silly thing to mention, but nothing is more irritating than an ambiguous ending.
Zoe Robertson and Jesse Life are both new authors for me, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for more of their work. This was an engaging and enjoyable read, with a solid plot and developed characters. If you like dystopian style novels with science fiction thrown in, this is a big recommendation.