I received this book for free from Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
Published: Tor Books (2014), eARC, 304pg
Source: Book Tour
Genres: Fiction, GLBTQ, Sci-fi, Thriller
It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Daryl Gregory's Afterparty is a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.
It’s future!Canada! And in future!Canada drugs can be printed on paper! And then you eat them. And then you see God. Literally.
Numinous is a tricky drug; it changes the chemicals (or something) in your brain so you hallucinate religion. It’s like zombies, but they’re high on god instead of turning living corpses.
What I loved most was that the whole book is a kind of meditation on religion and spirituality and if believing in a god makes you crazy or just more attuned to the universe or something. So Lyda thinks she’s crazy, right, because she’s an atheist who hallucinates an angel. But! Her angel is helpful and loving and makes Lyda feel good.
It’s like that for everyone else who takes the drug, too. They feel profoundly connected to the world/universe and they know that there’s a supreme being (whoever it may be) who loves them completely. They’re happy!
It’s only when they’re going through withdrawal that they get depressed and suicidal, and then it turns back into a question of science and drugs and whatnot.
The most fun part for me was the unraveling of Lyda’s history re:the drug and the people who made it. It takes a while, because Lyda is a close-up clam if I ever saw one, but it’s enthralling. I do wish the mystery part was more, well. Mysterious? It’s not so much a mystery as a clearing away of red herrings, with thriller/action side-plots. And a little bit of romance, too, which I loved.
It’s a very twisty book. Not so much because the plot is confusing, but because there SO MUCH to think about. Are the gods people see real, or are they just drug-induced hallucinations? If they AREN’T real, does it even matter? Is Numinous basically just a fancy kind of future!LSD and if so, is it a good or bad thing that so many people end up taking it at the end of the book?
If you like the kind of scifi that isn’t afraid to dig deep into what’re usual non-science-y things like religion/spirituality/etc., then for sure you’d like Afterparty.
Read: April 9-13, 2014
I interviewed DG about Afterparty! It will be up later today. Huzzah!
DG’s also going on tour to promote his new book: the details of that are at his website.