Monday 17 July 2023

One by Eve Smith BLOG TOUR #One @evecsmith @OrendaBooks #climateemergency #thriller #BookReview

One law. One child. Seven million crimes…

 A cataclysmic climate emergency has spawned a one-child policy in the UK, ruthlessly enforced by a totalitarian regime. Compulsory abortion of 'excess' pregnancies and mandatory contraceptive implants are now the norm, and families must adhere to strict consumption quotas as the world descends into chaos.

 Kai is a 25-year-old 'baby reaper', working for the Ministry of Population and Family Planning. If any of her assigned families attempt to exceed their child quota, she ensures they pay the price.

 Until, one morning, she discovers that an illegal sibling on her Ministry hit-list is hers. And to protect her parents from severe penalties, she must secretly investigate before anyone else finds out.

 Kai's hunt for her forbidden sister unearths much more than a dark family secret. As she stumbles across a series of heinous crimes perpetrated by the people she trusted most, she makes a catastrophic discovery that could bring down the government … and tear her family apart.

One by Eve Smith is published on 20 July 2023 by Orenda. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

I am a huge fan of speculative / dystopian fiction. The Handmaid's Tale has been my favourite book for over 30 years, and what I love most about novels such as these is that as time moves on, and the world changes, these books become more and more believable. 

Eve Smith's third novel is another story to both educate and horrify the reader. It is set around 60 years on from the present day and the UK has been ruled by the ONE Party for the last fifty years. The ONE party has core ethics that, on paper, appear to be sensible and caring toward mankind, and the planet. On closer inspection we find that what they've really done is to impose cruel and often misery making policies on the population. 

Each person has a resource quota, and the party can see exactly how this has been used. They know when and where people travel to and how much they eat, and what energy is used in their homes. Technology has advanced and bots are the norm; working alongside humans, and there are even bots that can be kept as household pets. 

The biggest and most important policy is the one-child policy. We know that this is not a new thing, we know that countries have done this in the past (look how that worked out!), but the UK have taken this a mighty leap further. First babies are welcomed, but a second pregnancy will be aborted .. these abortions are often forced and traumatic. There's also a mandatory contraceptive implant that all women are expected to endure. 

This is where lead character Kai fits in. She works for the Ministry of Populations and Family Planning. She is dedicated to her job, she is totally loyal to the ONE party. She spends her working hours tracking down second pregnancies and ensuring that they are terminated. 

Until the day that she recognises one of the DNA profiles assigned to her, and realises that she has a sister. Her parents must be arrested for the crime that they've hidden for over twenty years, and Kai must come to terms with the fact that her Mum and Dad are not who she's always thought they were. 

This leads to a tension filled, superbly written thriller that will chill the reader to their bones. As Kai discovers more about her family, and realises that her sister Senka is considered to be state enemy number one, her world unravels around her. She has always been dedicated to the Government and their policies, but there are things that she uncovers that prove that she, and millions of others have been lied to, for years. 

Whilst this is speculative fiction, it feels so very relevant. Eve Smith's knowledge of climate change is extraordinary and her ability to weave this into such a fine piece of fiction is brilliant.  It's not only about the damage done to the planet itself, there's the issue of migration and how the ONE Party treat migrants. The terrible conditions that they are kept in, the lack of basic human rights, the determination to send the boats back, or to send those people to other lands  ..... sound familiar?  Yes, I thought so. 

I live in Lincolnshire, not far from the coast, and we know that in years to come this area will not exist, it will be part of the sea. Some of this story is set here, and to read the stunning and terrifying descriptions of places that I know so well, such as Horncastle, Gunby and of course Skegness is horrifying .. they are no longer thriving towns and villages, they are just memories. Drowned by the sea, and all because of what we have done. 

This would be the perfect book for a book group discussion. I feel as though I want to say so much more about it, but I try not to write long reviews and the author has written such a gripping and authentic story. It is not my place to go into every detail ... but please anyone who has read it, do contact me, we need to talk! 

A powerful, masterful and incredibly important novel that should be read by everyone. Packed with characters that you can empathise with, even if you don't actually like them.  Eve Smith is a visionary story teller, her book is addictive and chilling. Highly recommended by me. 

Eve Smith writes speculative thrillers, mainly about the things that scare her. 

Longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize and described by Waterstones as ‘an exciting new voice in crime fiction’, Eve’s debut novel, The Waiting Rooms, set in the aftermath of an antibiotic resistance crisis, was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award and was a Book of the Month in the Guardian, who compared her writing to Michael Crichton’s. 
It was followed by Off-Target, about a world where genetic engineering of children is routine. 
Eve’s previous job at an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. 
She lives in Oxfordshire with her family.

Twitter @evecsmith

Instagram @evesmithauthor

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