Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid's Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin .
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around--and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes.
At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.
"*Starred Review* Formerly well-employed homeowners, Charmaine and Stan are now living in their cramped, smelly car, and they're lucky. After the whole system fell to pieces, most Americans are without work, shelter, or transportation, and many are willing to kill for a vehicle. As Stan becomes increasingly frantic, his rage stoked by the cushiness of his outlaw brother's life, Charmaine remains chirpy and upbeat, especially when she sees an ad for the Positron Project. She's sure it's the perfect solution, and readers will sense that they're in for some delectably caustic dystopian fiction. Sure enough, after the couple is accepted into Positron's maximum-security community, they learn that they'll spend one month in their comfortable little home, then one month separately incarcerated, working at assigned jobs, while another couple lives in the house. This lulling, numbing routine keeps them well-fed, under constant surveillance, and enslaved. So, naturally, everything goes devilishly awry. Ever-inventive, astutely observant, and drolly ironic, Atwood (Stone Mattress, 2014) unfurls a riotous plot of corporate rule, erotic mayhem, sexbots, brain-washing, murder, and Elvis and Marilyn impersonators. Her bristling characters range from right-on caricatures to unpredictably complicated individuals, especially the unnerving Charmaine. Atwood's ribald carnival of crazy deftly examines fear and the temptation to trade the confusion of choice and freedom for security, whatever the cost. This laser-sharp, hilariously campy, and swiftly flowing satire delves deeply into our desires, vices, biases, and contradictions, bringing fresh, incisive comedy to the rising tide of postapocalyptic fiction--including, most recently, The Subprimes (2015) and The Blondes (2015) in which Atwood has long been a clarion voice. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atwood's prominence ensures big interest, and promotional efforts will showcase the polish, dark humor, and quicksilver brilliance of her latest provoking novel.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In the dystopian landscape of the unflappable Atwood's (Stone Mattress) latest novel, there are "not enough jobs, and too many people," which drives married couple Stan and Charmaine to become interested in the Positron Project, a community that purports to have achieved harmony. There is a catch, as Positron leader Ed explains: citizens are required to share their home with other couples, alternating each month between time in prison and time at home. It's an odd arrangement, but one that temporarily satisfies Charmaine and Stan-until they each fall in love with the alternates they're supposed to never see; their infatuations put the entire Positron arrangement into question. Atwood is fond of intricate plot work, and the novel takes a long time to set up the action, but once it hits the last third, it gains an unstoppable momentum. The novel is full of sly moments of peripeteia and lots of sex, which play alongside larger ideas about the hidden monsters lurking in facile totalitarianism, and, as implied by the title, the ability of the heart to keep fighting despite long odds. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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