The Blueprint

HarperAudio. Feb. 2024. 10:17 hrs. ISBN 9780063330139. $27.99. F
Rashad’s captivating debut imagines a future United States transformed by a second civil war in 1954. Black people are classified as Descendants of Slavery (DoS), and the country is ruled by a group of white men called the Order. While DoS men are forced into military servitude, DoS women are forced to marry men assigned to them by a computer algorithm. Set in the year 2030, the story follows Solenne, a Black woman who, at the age of 15, was claimed by Bastien Martin, a high-ranking Order official who built the algorithm. Solenne initially believed that she loved Bastien and took him at his word that he would set her free. Now, however, buoyed by tales of her ancestor Henriette, Solenne begins to understand the insidious repercussions of Bastien’s political decisions and actions. Rashad’s adept storytelling shines as she skillfully traverses different timelines in Solenne’s life. Joniece Abbott-Pratt’s narration supports Rashad’s full-bodied characterizations and will have listeners empathizing with Solenne’s confusion and pain as they root for her to be free.
VERDICT An unputdownable listen for fans of speculative fiction or of Octavia E. Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kazuo Ishiguro.
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