Life goes on for the billions left behind after the humanity-saving colony mission to Proxima Centauri leaves Earth orbit ... but what's the point?
Julie Riley is two years too young to get out from under her mother's thumb, and what does it matter? She's over-educated, under-employed, and kept mostly numb by her pharma emplant. Her best friend, who she's mostly been interacting with via virtual reality for the past decade, is part of the colony mission to Proxima Centauri. Plus, the world is coming to an end. So, there's that.
When Julie's mother decides it's time to let go of the family home in a failing suburb and move to the city to be closer to work and her new beau, Julie decides to take matters into her own hands. She runs, illegally, hoping to find and hide with the Volksgeist, a loose-knit culture of tramps, hoboes, senior citizens, artists, and never-do-wells who have elected to ride out the end of the world in their campers and converted vans, constantly on the move over the back roads of America.
File Under: Science Fiction [ #VanLife | Driving Out and Growing Up | No (wo)man left behind | Cube Route ]
Greene (The Light Years) makes buy-in to his apocalyptic future difficult. Around seven decades from now, the U.S., beset by catastrophic climate change, has repealed the 26th amendment, which allowed 18-year-olds to vote, and replaced it with one that limits "things like adulthood and full citizenship to persons who are twenty-five or older'... to protect the job market, eliminate housing shortages, and take the pressure off aging infrastructure." Greene doesn't do enough to explain how the new law would address these problems, or why those underage are barred from full employment, let alone how it could have been ratified by three-quarters of the states. Against this implausible backdrop, six colony ships launch for Proxima Centauri, intended to be humanity's new home at least for the chosen few. Twenty-three-year-old Julie Riley is among the 10 billion left behind to die, and the book focuses on her bland attempts to block out the apocalyptic reality around her. Greene's worldbuilding underwhelms even in its smallest details, which are often illogical, as in a throwaway bit about Beyonc having become a country singer late in her career. The undistinguished prose and weak characterizations sink this flawed endeavor.)