Ben H. Winters
**I received a copy of this book from my library in exchange for absolutely nothing - and I love them for it.**
This book deserves a review. It has to be one of the most powerful novels I've read in a long time. Ben is a master at mashing up genres. The Last Policeman trilogy, which I also reviewed, was science fiction, dystopian, apocalyptic and most of all a mystery. But how to review something like this? It really has to go into what genre...science fiction? Fantasy?
It's an alternate universe story that asks, what would our reality be like if the Civil War never happened? If slavery were still legal today? And his take on that is disturbing. I'm not saying it's a bad story or he's a bad author. It's a fantastic story and he's a great author. But the level of open hostility and racism that is not only allowed, but expected. This is especially true in the Big Four - the remaining four states that still have slavery.
I think Ben really went out there to write a character that was not only a black man, but also a former slave, and a U.S. Marshall tasked with capturing escaped slaves. Just imagine the nuances of this character...how conflicted does he have to feel?
It is full of flashbacks to his childhood, his brother, and ultimately how he ended up where he is currently.
The thing that bothered me the most, is that the racism in this universe isn't that different from what we are still seeing in our own timeline. I think this book really shines a stage light on one of the most important issues with our country. There was a certain amount of hope in this story, but our main character doesn't seem to have any. He is convinced nothing will change, and his having the perspective of having been a slave and knowing how easily he could be back there colors that.
I can't do this one justice. You just have to read it. You won't find solutions, but you will find something to chew on and a great story to go along with it.