Will we be living in some version of Josh Bellin's vividly imagined political satire-slash-sci-fi thriller in the next, say, twenty to thirty years? I hope not, but this author (of the wonderful duology SURVIVAL COLONY NINE and SCAVENGER OF SOULS) has all the chops to turn such a dystopian scenario, where the world is firmly under the thumb of greedy, soulless corporate overlords, into a page-turning space opera that is pure pleasure from start to finish.
Chapters alternate between past and present, slowly revealing the story of star-crossed love at the heart of the book. Sophie is the young, idealistic leader of the oppressed Downworlders (the 99 percent), while Cam Newell is a privileged son of the Upworlders (think 1 percenters). He's a decent sort though, and falls hard for Sophie's powerful oratory and sheer magnetism, leading him to question all the master-race propaganda he's been silver spoon-fed his whole life.
Cam and Sophie end up on massive ships headed into deep space with the aim of colonizing a new planet since ours has been stripped clean by the corporate locusts. A saboteur kicks the present-day plot into motion, stranding them on a hostile planet with very nasty native life forms (a Bellin specialty) and bringing simmering tensions to a boil.
The opening sequence, in which Cam wakes up after a lengthy hypersleep to find himself trapped in a damaged pod, is heart-pounding and cinematic, and Bellin excels at both these suspenseful action scenes and the quieter moments (mainly in flashback) where we get to dig deeper into the backstory and key characters, including Cam's two best friends, Adrian and Griff. As always, it's the relationships that drive the plot, even when it's as high-octane as this one, and the tale of Cam and Sophie – basically two kids from different sides of the tracks trying to find their way together – will not be easily forgotten.
FREEFALL is an allegory of the times, but Bellin keeps his story fresh and even light-hearted in places, with corporate jargon taken to its final black-comedy extreme (corponation names include SubCon, Frackia, ConGlo, MicroNasia and Can-Do Amortization!).
The upshot? If I had to live in such a screwed-up future, I'd want it to be Joshua David Bellin's.
You can check out his website for more info on the other books!