When I saw Company Town on NetGalley, the striking cover was what initially drew me in. I’ve yet to see a Joey Hi-Fi cover that wasn’t compelling. The blurb wasn’t spectacular, but hey, TOR usually has superb sci-fi. [edit: Joey Hi-Fi and Madeline Ashby tweeted me to correct me that the cover is by Erik Mohr.]
I’ve always enjoyed dystopian near-future science fiction, and Ms. Ashby delivers on all fronts. My biggest complaint about Company Town is that there was more than one leap in the narrative. These leaps left me confused. I suppose that could’ve been intentional, since they followed the character getting knocked out, but it just seemed jarring to me.
Parts of the story felt clichéd. Prostitutes with hearts of gold, the Snidely Whiplash villainy of the Family, the extreme uncaring class separation, and the disfigured hero that is beautiful on the inside have been done again and again, but Ms. Ashby does weave an exciting tale with a unique take on these old tropes.
There was a little bit of whodoneit mystery sprinkled in, with plenty of red herrings, but the mystery aspect took a back seat to the sci-fi, and the unrestrained romp Hwa achieves as she uncovers a string of grisly murders that she just knows are aimed at her.
Overall, Company Town is a compelling read, and although portions of this review may seem negative, I highly recommend this 4-star book.