Farrar. Aug. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9780374261597. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374717117. F
Candace Chen arrives in New York City postcollege because "it seemed like the inevitable, default place to go." After a summer of wandering Manhattan wearing her dead mother's dresses—taking pictures and getting picked up—she unexpectedly falls into a publishing job. She settles into a Brooklyn apartment, finds a freespirited boyfriend, and five years pass. Then Shen Fever hits, rapidly spreading gruesome death across the globe. Candace inexplicably remains immune. The city empties, becoming the "NY Ghost" Candace ironically named her photo blog in more vibrant times. On the final day of her work contract, she commandeers a yellow cab as far as Pennsylvania, where she becomes the ninth—and last—member of a motley crew who might be the only survivors. Their destination: "the Facility." The end looms but Candace is, well, just beginning. Debut author Ma, who won the 2015 Graywolf SLS Prize for best novel excerpt with a chapter from this book, presents a smart, searing exposé on the perils of consumerism, Google overload, and millennial malaise.
VERDICT With womb dystopia a hot topic inspired by the renewed popularity of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, an already established audience will be eager to discover this work. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/18.]
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