The Freedom Race

Macmillan Audio. (The Dreambird Chronicles, Bk. 1). Jul. 2021. 13:30 hrs. ISBN 9781250808295. $32.99. SF
The first work of speculative fiction by British Jamaican novelist and poet Roy (Hotel Alleluia) portrays resilience and outrage in the face of perceived powerlessness, set in the former United States, generations after the Sequel (a second Civil War). The country has been divided into three regions; the southern portion, the Homestead Territories, relies on the labor of enslaved Black people. The population having been decimated by natural disaster, religious zealotry, and genetic mutation, the Homestead Territories has instituted a repopulation scheme intended to create a subjugated class of strong but docile workers, where white “fathermen” take multiple enslaved wives in order to “reseed” the world. Psychological and physical abuse and the seeming lack of help from outside make resistance by enslaved people almost impossible. Bred to work and made to run, teenaged Ji-ji lives through the folklore of the past and a compelling lineage of tribes who could fly free. The Freedom Race and the accompanying flyer fights are Ji-ji’s only hope to escape and to petition for the release of her family members. This series launch is speculative fiction at its best. Like all great fantasy works, Roy’s tale offers a view of truth in the real world through a veil of unreality. Listeners face terrifying effects of alienation and otherness, with glimpses of hope and humanity. Multilayered characterizations provide fascinating insights into shades of goodness and evil. Narrator Adjoa Andoh delivers an exquisite performance, bringing the large cast of characters to life with voices, intonations, and nuances both subtle and obvious.
VERDICT An essential purchase for library collections that will have both teen and adult listeners waiting anxiously for the next installment.
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