My parents are the best.
A few months ago they were in NYC and I got some text messages from them saying they had stumbled upon a cool Japanese store that sold all sorts of comics and manga and was there anything I wanted? I couldn’t think of anything specific, so I told them to pick out something that looked cool and bring it home for me.
Did they ever!
They came home with this gem by Lorenzo Ceccotti and translated by Mike Kennedy. Given the author’s name and the book’s setting (Italy) I would guess it was originally written in Italian.
It’s near-future dystopian. It takes place in the year 2030 and I could definitely see us living in this kind of world in a little over a decade. Not only are there screens everywhere, but there are ads everywhere, including on your car windows. Running low on toothpaste? Your bathroom mirror will prompt you to reorder with the push of a button. It’s pretty convenient, but also disheartening to think of not being able to look anywhere without something being sold to you. Oh, and plastic surgery is also super prevalent.
On the first page we see Italy’s prime minister bragging about how great everything is. They have universal healthcare and everyone can afford to buy everything they want. Sounds pretty great, right?
But just a few pages later there are news reports of terrorist attacks and pictures of people walking blithely by dead bodies in alleyways, so clearly not everything is as rosy as the president wants us to believe.
Turns out the prime minister was once best friends with Steno’s dad (Steno is the teenage protagonist of the story). Steno’s dad invented a machine that can “recreate and recombine matter at the molecular level” using only light and a little water. The idea is anyone can create anything they need, which will free society from capitalism and we all get to live happily ever after.
Except capitalism is how the government keeps everyone under control, so they can’t afford to have the masses get their hands on this technology. They try to take it away from Steno’s dad, kill him, and dump his body in the woods. They fail on the first two counts, but succeed on the third and I’m not entirely sure how that worked so I’m not going to try to explain it.
Steno doesn’t know any of this, but ends up falling in with a group of “terrorists” who knew his dad and worked with him to invent his technology, which they now want to bring to the world. After a lot of bloodshed, violence, and destruction, they succeed. The prime minister kills himself. The president (who was blackmailed into going along with everything) comes clean about his part in the deception and his intention to do right by the public from now on, and they all get to live happily ever after.
It was a fun, quick read, with absolutely gorgeous artwork. I definitely recommend it.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else you had someone else pick out for you? Did it turn out well?