Company Town (2016)


It’s like Terminator, only completely different. But don’t worry, that part comes in very late and isn’t the main appeal of the novel. In a nice reversal it’s a book with a seemingly generic or at least not at all-enthralling hook (action girl with issues has to play bodyguard for the heir of a stinking rich family that takes over a city that is part of an oil rig), but once you start reading its hard to put down.

Ashby throws a lot of stuff on the wall, a rapid fire of little ideas to give texture to the setting, a few big ones to inform the plot, and wraps it around a heroine that is easy to get comfortable with. Plagued like most of us with small and big things (cold mother, strange, defacing disease that has become both boon and bane for her), trying to muddle through life.

Then things get more complicated, relationship- and plot-wise. A Faustian bargain is made, at least it feels so a bit to the heroine, even if some of it comes from genuinely trying to be good and a killer stalks her friends. It’s a lot, and surprisingly enough, for all the ideas Ashby throws at the wall, most of them stick and build a dense, often unexpected trip that’s really hard stop. At close to 300 pages, this feels more like a hundred page novella, burning fast and bright.

If you asked me what the bigger message or topic was, I probably came up blank, but as far as intensity and sheer fun goes, this is right at the top.

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