Early Riser

Viking. Feb. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9780670025039. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698170346. SF
Each winter, much of humanity hibernates during the deep cold and snow, relying on the protection of an elite crew known as the Winter Consuls. Some villains prey on the sleeping, such as nightwalkers who eat the living, and the Wintervolk are a lot less mythical than they should be. Many first-time Winter Consul members barely survive the first freeze, much less volunteer to be out in the subzero temperatures. But not Charlie Worthing. When Charlie attempts to deliver a nightwalker to the often dangerous Sector 12, he gets caught both in an investigation of viral dreams that kill people and a conspiracy involving the major corporation HiberTech and splinter group RealSleep. Veiled commentary on corporate greed, sleep and dreaming, and twisted popular culture highlight why Fforde, perhaps best known for his "Thursday Next" series, is on par with authors such as Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
VERDICT Fforde's masterly, real-world, and socially conscious prose is filled with running jokes, amusing footnotes, and smart wordplay in this stand-alone novel. [See Prepub Alert, 8/27/18.]

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