The following is a kick-ass review of KRICKET, written by Goodreads user Mel. I’ve decided I’m not going to wait to die to commission an obituary from her.
I usually avoid dystopians, be they zombie apocalypse, plague, nuclear holocaust… you name it, I avoid it. I’m not a sunny person, okay, if you ask me, after things have disintegrated to say 4/10 on the quality of life scale, I don’t understand why these people don’t just top themselves and get it over with.
What possible value can they still find in life, when they have to spend that life on the run, eating garbage to stay alive, getting in shootouts and fistfights and that all day every day? You’ve already got a gun, there, friendo, what are you waiting for?
There’s that other kind of dystopia, though: the Big Maybe, you might say, where things are pretty terrible, but there’s still a chance they’ll improve. The GP has won the Get the Crap Kicked Outta Ya Contest, sure, but even if it’s down, it isn’t quite out, yet. The Handmaid’s Tale. V for Vendetta. 1984.
And, as another example, Penni Jones’s Kricket.
You might be tempted to believe that Kricket‘s a product of the current sociopolitical climate down in the US, but I read an early draft of it, years ago, when the world didn’t seem as scary as it does now. When we weren’t as scared. It was a funhouse mirror prediction, then, and it’s genuinely remarkable for that, you know, we’re not there yet, not exactly, but nobody is going to read this book and think comoffit, poopypants, that could never happen.
What sets it apart from many other books in the genre is its workaday humanity, you know, the author doesn’t content herself with showing a series of forgettable, interchangeable characters subjected to her world’s atrocities, and nor are the atrocities all she shows. She’s built the world–built it very well–but she’s built the people living in it with just as much dexterity.
Some of the time they’re fighting, on whichever side they’re on, but sometimes they’re just eating pancakes, or having a smoke. It’s often in the small moments that character is revealed, after all. The private moments. You don’t really get a sense of yourself when you’re busy at work, but stuck awake in bed at 2am?
Not just the titular protagonist but all of Jones’s characters are fully-realized, flesh and blood, not just nametag automatons to be shuffled from scene to scene as the story unfolds. They have history, layers of it, none of it predictable, and that’s what drives the story, far more so than the world they live in, though the richness of that world is an achievement on its own, just familiar enough to be upsetting.
It’s a world I cared about, reading it, people I cared about. I’m sure you will, too.