As part of OWS Con 2019, I decided to read and review Shari Sakurai’s dystopian science fiction novel Perfect World. It’s an interesting book that turned out to be nothing at all like I expected when I first started reading. I can normally spot plot twists, but in this case I’ll admit that the author took me completely by surprise.
The main character, Eric Rawlins, at first seems like any other ace pilot/James Bond type. He’s genetically enhanced to be strong, fast, and handsome. But while Eric at first struck me as a bit of a cliche, as the book progresses he develops into a true hero, showing a surprising amount of moral courage, decency, and compassion. I really enjoyed that the author gave Eric vulnerability and empathy—it made his character deeper and more complex, and honestly, made him a more enjoyable and likable hero to root for. I also liked that Eric moves from seeing moral problems as black and white, but comes to understand that people and situations can be grey and complicated.
I don’t want to give away too much about the other characters, in part because to do so would spoil one of the twists of the book, but I’m impressed by how much complexity Sakurai allows her characters. They often have conflicting motivations and desires, and even characters who feel one note at first develop in surprising but organic ways.
It’s hard to discuss the plot in depth because so much of it is dependent on some surprising and original twists, but needless to say, the book completely subverted some of my expectations. If the first chapter gives the impression that the book is going to be a simplistic good guy vs. bad guy Jame Bond-type plot, be prepared for some serious surprises. In the end, I appreciated how much of the plot felt earned. Eric’s initial casting of himself as a hero going up against a cruel villain feels jarring, especially when we learn about the levels of control the LSA has over him as well as the civilian population. Eric’s realizations over the course of the book feel disorienting in a good way, like someone waking up from a dream.
Overall, while there’s a little clunky writing sometimes, I enjoyed this book and once I started getting into it I could hardly stop reading. If you are looking for dystopian science fiction with some LGBT romance, I’d definitely recommend Perfect World!
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