What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed?
That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself – together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished ‘heritage’ crimes of their parents.
Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home – and when things finally erupt, they realize they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame.
A speculative dystopic story about a future in which the hatred and division amongst humans reaches such a point that innocents are being put in jail in the name of justice. Heritage crime, a concept of punishing the relatives, esp children, of criminals who escape punishment, arises in the US (it always starts in America) and then spreads to the rest of the world. Prisons are created to contain these strutters, who serve the punishment of others. In one such prison, Spike, Abigail and her brother, along with their foster parents, are all serving the sentences of their respective parents, in a family annexe compound. Though it is a prison, there are plenty they can bargain with, and live with some degree of freedom. This infuriates the regular prisoners in adjoining prisons. On the outside, they are already hated because they are seen as people who enjoyed the spoils of crime, and politicians fueling this hatred means, the strutters are hated on both sides.
When Abigail sets out for revenge and causes a cascade of events that lead to a prison riot, all their lives are endangered. On the run, she and her friends fight to survive, hide, but most of all, return to free the others. They are also concerned about the safety of their family in the prison, under the rule of their tyrant Assessor, a man known for his blatant and raging hard-on for punishing strutters. In a way, the story is more about the action than the characters, and that series of events drives the plot more than anything else. The fact that it does not focus on the characters (as much as I would like it to) also diminishes the point of a POC heroine. But the writing is exemplary when it comes to the action; at some points it was so intense I had to actually put down the book because I was getting so nervous about the turn of events. It is quite unpredictable in some ways, and in others it reminds a bit of other dystopic novels. In summary, it is a good piece of speculative fiction, and great for those who love action-packed intense plots.
Received a free galley from Penguin Random House UK Children’s, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.