An intriguing dystopian thriller, this book has been compared to The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle but really the similarities are superficial and this book is better-written anyway. I wonder if Guy Morpuss was partly inspired by the song ‘Down in the Park’ by Tubeway Army. I had the song in my head the whole time I was reading. [Note: the author responded on Twitter that he hadn’t heard the song before writing the book – it was just an odd coincidence!]
The concept of this book is fascinating. In the future, to save resources and solve overpopulation, everyone has to make a choice at the age of 17. They can terminate their existence, or become a short-lived hedonist, or a worker with a natural lifespan, or put their mind into an android body, or join a ‘commune’. The latter is a group of minds sharing the same body (on rotation), which presents challenges but allows the longest lifespan. The five protagonists of the story are a commune and the problem is that one of them may be a murderer or in league with some shady characters to mess with their minds. They are in a ‘death park’, where people go to play games where the losers die and the winners gain more time added to their lifespans (this being the most valuable currency).
I did find the story confusing sometimes, trying to remember who was narrating (the voices weren’t always distinct enough for me), who knew what, whose mind was in which body, etc. On the plus side, the novel was the right length, the games were exciting to read about, the chapters were short and the vision of the future seemed scarily plausible. Five Minds is an impressive debut and I look forward to the author’s next book.
Thank you to the publisher Viper for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 2nd September.