The cover blurb says ‘A literary novel in sci fi clothing.’ Well, no. Literary, ok, if you mean a smidge preachy and a bit lead-footed on the metaphoric racist aspect. Sci fi, not much. More like sci fi light. Set in Morocco in some kind of near future, we do have harni, which are biological creations made to look like humans, although they are not, and are manufactured for specific tasks. Kind of like DIY servants. And we do have the process of jessing, which is an implant that makes a person bonded to whoever pays for them…. buys them. This is voluntary, kind of a guaranteed job program.
It leans heavily on the idea that harni aren’t ummm well people, and of course they are not. So they are looked down upon, and looked upon as I guess we would look at robots. So anyway, the protagonist, Hariba, has herself jessed because she doesn’t know what else to do with herself. Her widowed mother lives in the Nekropolis, the old graveyard with its mausoleums now used as housing by the poor and just-above-poor, containing shops and markets, just like a little city within a city.
At her employment, Hariba meets and falls in love with a male harni, a lovely hunk of manhood, and he falls in love with her, and they plan to run away together and find a way to get smuggled into Spain, where they will be given asylum and a new life.
I should have liked this much better than I did. After all, it did have some interesting characters, and a fine action line, a plot where something happened next and next, etc, as plots should have, but really, I think I was underwhelmed because of possibly where I am in my own head at the mo, and the relentless undercurrent of moralizing throughout the story. Lots of musing about what are feelings, and emotions, and reflections on what it means to be a human. Ho, not to mention hum. Was this supposed to be a disguised discussion of Islam, the Arab world’s treatment of women, or what?
This is not this author’s first rodeo, but I will probably not be searching out more of her books. Like I said, the fault lies with me and my cranky world outlook these days.