Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
Warnings: physical violence, use of animals in experimentation, epidemic
Want has something for everyone – futuristic setting, a heist-like plot, a group of awesome friends, an enemies-to-lovers romance, and a good capitalism take-down. I see it being marked as dystopian, but I don’t think it is technically so, since this is more a science fiction story with capitalism as the enemy, than the government. Set in what could basically be the next decade, Taipei is one of the cities in the world with a pollution problem, and the Jin Corp has a solution for the rich people, colloquially called you, where they wear full body suits with helmets that regulate their temperature and breathing air, outside of existing exclusive regulated air spaces. Jason Zhou and his merry band of friends know that the Jin Corp has been deliberately killing environmental bills in the government so as to continue his thriving business, and so they plan to take down his company, at least temporarily, so as to give the privileged a taste of the air they have been bubbling themselves from.
Zhou’s mission is to infiltrate the you, using money from ransoming a random you girl, Daiyu, he had kidnapped. Turns out, she is the very daughter of the man whose company he’s trying to bring down. He is helped by Victor, a dealer of whatever you want, Lingyi, hacker extraordinare and the leader of their group, Iris, the muscle, and Arun, the researcher whose mother was killed by the Jin Corp. Together, they construct his new identity and untangle any snags along the way, but enacting the plan falls to him. Which is trying to get close to Daiyu so that he can get into Jin’s systems, but also try to keep away from her because feelings are developing and he is feeling guilty over lying. It is a nice blend of spy intrigue, romance and activism, culminating in a twist near the ending. The flu thing pushes the limits of coincidences, to be fair, but I liked that subplot because it is quite possible. It is a timely novel, particularly now, with how relevant the topics raised in the novel are.
Is it diverse? Set in Taiwan, with all Taiwanese characters (OwnVoices); sapphic side couple