Tor.com. Jan. 2019. 208p. ISBN 9781250209443. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250209436. SF
OrangeReviewStarAmerica in 2030 is ruled by guns, television networks, and most especially fear, in this frightfully realistic slice of dystopian fiction from Bennett (City of Stairs; Foundryside). The most popular TV show in the nation is Vigilance, in which gunmen, chosen and armed by the network, strike at carefully selected public spaces and must be brought down by an armed populace seeking to live out their "good guy with a gun" fantasies, all broadcast live for a spellbound audience and monster ratings. As the social media buzz for the latest episode mounts, John McDean, the show's cynical creator, exploits the dark desires that glue viewers to their screens but can't see his own vulnerabilities, exploited by others.
VERDICT In a world where mass shootings are already a near-daily occurrence, this slim novel might be too grim and genuine for some, but Jackson's fast-paced, blistering look at how a nation's seductive myths about itself can lead to its downfall is an absolute must-read. Perfect for fans of Lauren Beukes, Richard K. Morgan, or the Netflix series Black Mirror.
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