MYSTERY

Afterland

Mulholland: Little, Brown. Jul. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780316267830. $28. THRILLER
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Beukes (Broken Monsters) pens a painfully plausible plague novel set three years after Manfall, a cancer-causing virus that killed 99 percent of the males worldwide. Women run the world now, reproduction is a crime, and the few remaining males are either in hiding or under government “protection.” One such male is 12-year-old Miles, who is held at a U.S. military base, along with his mother, Cole, and her sister, Billie. Cole and Billie plot to escape with Miles and go to South Africa, where they’re from. Cole learns that Billie has more nefarious plans for her son, and after a violent confrontation, she and Miles hit the road, with Miles posing as her daughter, Mila. On their perilous journey, they encounter allies, enemies, and unwitting enablers, including a group of colorfully garbed nuns who believe that repentance will bring back men. They are pursued by a trio of cold-blooded characters who want to sell Miles to the highest bidder. Some characterizations are thin here, but the action and tension are strong, and chapters told from different points of view work well, particularly when Miles is spotlighted.
VERDICT Fans of chase novels and postapocalyptic stories will enjoy.

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