The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.
The entire population inside has been quarantined, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.
Regan, stealth and reconnaissance expert with a lizard’s scales and snake’s eyes, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. His ability to disappear into thin air isn’t enough: he needs an escape, and he’ll do anything for a chance. Unluckily for him, Hans, a ghostly boy with a chilling smile, knows just the thing to get one. It starts with a little murder.
But instead of ending a man’s life, Regan starts a new one of his own. He turns away from that twisted path, and runs into Evelyn, fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now Regan has a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.
They join forces with Evelyn’s family: the virtuosic but volatile Danae, who breathes life into machines, and her wife Rose, whose compassionate nature and power over healing vines and defensive thorns will both be vital to survive this nightmare. Then there’s Zilch, a cool and level-headed person made of other dead people, and Finn, one of Parole’s few remaining taxi drivers, who causes explosions whenever he feels anything but happy.
Separately they’d never survive, much less uncover the secret of Parole’s eternally-burning fire. Together, they have a chance. Unfortunately, Hans isn’t above playing dirty, lying, cheating, manipulating… and holding Regan’s memories hostage until he gets his way.
Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…
Gosh, I’m not quite sure where to start with this novel because I just adored it so much. Seriously, it’s probably going to be one of my top novels of the year because it’s just amazing in so many different ways.
First off, I got a free review copy of this through AceBookClub on Twitter which is a fantastic book club and I’d definitely recommend it. It’s so nice and refreshing to read stories that don’t focus on romance. They’re ace. Literally.
So, the summary from Goodreads is comprehensive enough that I don’t really need to discuss much in terms of the plot and instead I’m going to focus on the amazing characters. They’re all just so wonderful with a range of interesting powers such as Rose, one of my favourites, whose power revolves around plants. Also, three of the characters are in a healthy polyamorous relationship with a child that’s been established before the novel starts and so it’s just full of lovely love for each other and their child. Rose has a prosthetic leg (made by one of her wives), Regan suffers from anxiety and Evelyn is trans and there is a small section focusing on the importance of using the correct pronouns when referring to her. And of course, because this was for AceBookClub there are of course asexual characters. As you can see from the book cover, the characters are also from a range of ethnicities with a large variety of skin colours.
While reading this book, I was constantly delighted to discover more and more diversity while also enjoying a fantastic plot. It was super enjoyable to read and I just fell in love with all the characters and I was so happy to see parts of my identity represented in a really amazing setting and in characters with lots of fantastic powers. The entire book was just a delight and I ended up finishing it way before AceBookClub which is why this review is so late as I wanted to wait until they’d finished before posting it and then it was February and I was only posting reviews of black authors.
I highly, highly recommend this book and I’ll probably be constantly recommending it all the time because it’s just that great. I also have a review of one of the short stories, Runtime, which is a prequel and serves as a great and cheap introduction to the world of Parole if you’re not sure about making the commitment to buying the book.