I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of Company Town by Madeline Ashby. This dystopian, futuristic novel has been selected as one of the Canada Reads books for 2017 and, now that I’ve read it, I can definitively say it deserves the honour.
In Ashby’s dystopian world, most have ‘improved’ themselves with implants and artifical body parts. The main character, Hwa, may be the only person who is 100% organic. Born with a genetic disorder that mars her face with a large stain and causes seizures, she falls firmly into the category of ‘have-nots’ in a large oil operation off the coast of Newfoundland. She works as a bodyguard, training and protecting sex workers until she’s recruited by the Lynch Corporation, a wealthy family who buys the rig, to protect the youngest Lynch, Joel.
And then, her friends start dying, and it’s up to Hwa to find out why. The plot moves fast, pulling the reader along through a dark and gritty world. There’s a little bit of a love story, a little bit of a murder mystery, and a little bit of steampunk all thrown together. The book addresses themes such as poverty, disability, women’s rights and the rights of sex workers in a very accessible way. It also forces its reader to think about issues surrounding privilege and the divide between the rich and the poor. Company Town has a strong story line with a lot going on beneath the surface.
Jeanette deBoer is a librarian at the Prince Edward County Public Library and archives. She tries to always have a book in her hands. When she’s not reading, she’s playing around on social media or teaching people how to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.