Highbridge Audio. Dec. 2022. 7:25 hrs. ISBN 9781696610100. $19.99. F
Bound and gagged in a Brooklyn warehouse, Lee is prepared to have their body tortured by a seductive femme known simply as “X.” Lee’s experience was meant to be a one-night stand and nothing more. Recently separated from their masochistic ex, Davis’s (The Earthquake Room) nonbinary protagonist hates their corporate job, is behind on their rent, and is fearful that a corrupt government will export their friends for being undesirable. Lee tunes everything out with late-night walks and true-crime podcasts, but can’t tune out their obsessive thoughts about X, especially when it’s rumored that the dominatrix is facing exportation. Davis’s novel is graphic and explicit, discussing snuff films and sexual fetishes against a dystopian background inspired by real-world political tensions. Unfortunately, Kai Rubio’s narration falls flat, marred by a disinterested tone and a shallow emotional range. Although he never fully distances himself from this style, his pacing eventually shifts into a slightly higher gear to better reflect the growing tension and narrative excitement.
VERDICT Davis’s sophomore novel is a beautiful lens through which to observe subcultures shunned by a puritanical future society, but Rubio’s lackluster narration inadequately serves this otherwise compelling work.
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