Tor.com. Aug. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781250810298. $26.99. SF
DEBUT In West’s debut novel, children are created only in laboratories, either to become a prized piece of thoughtfully engineered beauty and intelligence to increase the online status of their parents or to become a menial worker with an expected life span of 25 years. But not everyone is comfortable with the status quo, and it’s exhausting to always carefully curate an online image. Maybe it’s time for change? West’s presentation of the thoughts and questions centering around Menials—from the secretive way they are created to the common misbelief that they have no recognizable feelings—fosters an interesting discussion about what qualities, characteristics, or behaviors indicate personhood. West does not address basic functional aspects of the setting, leaving a good deal of room for interpretation, but this makes portions of the story difficult to connect with, although repeating scenes from different perspectives allows for a better understanding of key characters.
VERDICT With its slower pace and the many concepts it introduces and leaves unresolved, West’s debut novel will appeal to readers who appreciate philosophical fiction and fans of Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” and “Impostors” series.
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