May Fields has everything she’s supposed to want: a posh apartment, the latest gadgets, and a high-level job with one of the only two Corporations left in the world. In fact, her father is the CEO of N-Corp, the only company left in what was once the Western world and the only government May has ever known. Everything is owned by the Company. Those who refuse to work for the Company and live their lives by its strict HR code are deemed ‘unprofitable’ and marginalized, persecuted, imprisoned. Every worker goes deep into debt, and if HR considers their debt to exceed their profitability, they are taken to work camps to ‘work off the debt’.
Religion, once a tool of government, has realigned itself with the Company to promote hard work and unquestioning obedience. Gender conformity is reinforced, and May, a lesbian, has to repress her desires and hide her individuality from the world. Yet, it’s the only life she’s ever known, so she’s worked hard to accept it and make the best of it. But when she has to deliver the shocking news that the Company will actually lose money for the first time in decades everything begins to unravel.
Blood Zero Sky reads like the 21st Century bastard child of Brave New World and1984, as directed by Ridley Scott. Set in a very near future, it starkly warns of an all-too-possible future where rampant capitalism and unbridled consumerism have allowed a single corporation to amass all the power in the world. Where innovation has stagnated because there is no competition anymore. Everybody’s identity is coded into small cross-shaped chips implanted on the cheek and your every action and thought is monitored.
Gates makes you believe this world is not only possible, but it’s almost here. Once the groundwork is laid for the setting, each revelation as to how its society works becomes even more spine-chilling because it evolves logically from the basic premise, and the direction our world is heading today. May Fields, though hard to like at the very beginning, is an engaging narrative voice who guides the reader from the point of view of an insider through a fast-paced discovery of the Company and the rebel movement fighting against it. She grows from the complacency of her upbringing into a rebel leader without losing her depth of character. Foremost, this is a human story. A tale of self-discovery and personal transformation and the sacrifices one can be willing to make when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. This is not a happy book, but it tells a story which is important to tell and is also entertaining. I give it four stars.