Hello, everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Reality Testing by Grant Price, an interesting cyberpunk science fiction novel that asks a lot of important philosophical questions. Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour!
Author: Grant Price
Publication Date: January 6, 2021
Length: 289 pages
Read Date(s): May 17, 2021 – May 19, 2021
Welcome to Berlin. Population: desperate. In the throes of the climate crisis the green tech pioneers are king, and if you aren’t willing to be their serf then you’re surplus to requirements.
Carbon credit for sleeping on the job. That’s the offer a dreamtech puts to Mara Kinzig, and she jumps on it. After all, the city ain’t getting any cheaper.
Then somebody changes the deal while she’s dreaming in the tank.
Now Mara has a body on her hands, an extra voice in her head, and the law on her tail. Only the Vanguard, a Foreign Legion of outcasts seeking an alternative path in the dust between the city states, might be able to help her figure out what went wrong. First, though, she’ll have to escape the seething streets of Berlin alive.
This was a really good book. The pacing was great. There was always something happening or a new bit of interesting information being dropped to keep the reader engaged. The world was captivating and believable as a potential future for the human race on Earth, which was terrifying because it seemed to be the last horrific gasp of humanity before extinction. The author did an excellent job of unveiling details about the world and characters as the story progressed rather than dumping a lot of information at once. However, this approach did make the reading experience somewhat jarring at first with all of the unexplained concepts and terminology. I still really liked it, though, because it became like a puzzle throughout the book to figure out what all the jargon meant. I was especially proud of myself once I learned how to interpret the number system used in the book since I had no idea what it meant at first.
The main characters were fascinating and well-developed. Mara was a mystery with a riveting backstory, and the chapters from her POV were my favorite. The struggle she faced in figuring out her identity after the events she faced was incredibly compelling and kept me hooked until the very end. I also enjoyed the other characters, especially Daniel. It was interesting to see him go from someone always running from the things he did in the past to an individual who overcame his self-blame, took responsibility, and fought back. The freakish way technology was integrated into most of the characters’ lives, and bodies, made each character unique, and seeing the different ways they each related to the tech, especially Mantis and the other underground individuals, was intriguing.
The world and characters were fantastic, but my favorite thing about this book was its ability to make me think about some pretty powerful issues that are facing mankind. It is one of the things I love about this entire genre, and this book pulls it off well. The story posed so many thought-provoking questions wrapped in the guise of the engrossing narrative. What are the potential impacts of a widespread environmental crisis? What is the endpoint of a society/economy that treats people as commodities with value based only what they can produce? How will the continued enmeshment of technology in every aspect of life impact humanity? And most fascinating, what is consciousness, and how does it relate to what it means to be human? This book attempts to tackle them all while also exploring the line between what we can do and what we should do in relation to scientific advancement.
Overall, this book was a thought-provoking, fun ride into a fascinating, yet horrifying, vision of humanity’s future. The characters, technology, and imaginative, well-paced world-building were excellent vehicles for considering important questions about the direction of society. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction about dystopian futures.
About the Author
Grant Price (b. 1987) is a British-German author currently living in Berlin, Germany. His first novel, Static Age, appeared in 2016. His second novel, By the Feet of Men, was published by Cosmic Egg Books in 2019. His third novel, Reality Testing, was released by Down By Law Books in 2021. His work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph and a number of magazines and journals, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has taught writing at the University of Gießen in Germany.