BOOK REVIEW: BARRICADE / AUTHOR: JON WALLACE / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Kentsibec is a taxi driver, ferrying a journalist from Edinburgh to London. Sounds pretty simple eh? Well, it isn't; Kentisbec is a ficial – an artificially created life-form who can heal quickly and has the looks of a Gap underwear model – and the Ficials are at war with the Reals: the remaining dregs of British humans.
Kentsibec's task is to transport his glamorous companion - who is more than a little fond of her luggage – from the Edinburgh barricade to Brixton via a twisty-turny route across two countries. This is a UK ravaged by flood water, environmental refugees and Reals intent on destroying the Ficials – their unnatural creation. Unfortunately, for Kentsibec, he also needs a guide to help him on his way – a wheezing, dying human who the Ficial is convinced will try to kill both of them.
Like the journey, the plot of the book is also twisty-turny with generous helpings of double-crossing, drug-addled action, and a wonderful colourful character in the shape of the vain, TV-obsessed King of Newcastle.
Yes, it's violent. Yes, it's pretty gruesome, but, to be fair, Jon Wallace's imagined UK in the full throes of a nuclear winter would never end in a chippy tea and a couple of pints down the local. The details of the fights, the struggle for survival, radiation sickness and other maladies, are unflinching and gory.
Ultimately, the plot centres around what humanity, and being human, means. And sometimes, just sometimes, the Ficials seem the more human out of the two races.
If you like your dystopias cranked up to 11 you'll love this book.