The average person seems to put a lot of trust in their Government. No way they are spying on me online and even if they are, what am I doing that they would care about? This attitude has shown that ignorance is not bliss, they may just sell your data to the highest bidder and before you know it they are able to predict who you will vote for or where you will shop with unerring accuracy. What are we to do? Put a tin foil hat on and watch out for phone masts? In the world of Green Valley people have decided to move back from a time of intrusive technology. That is except for one community.
The people of Green Valley are different from those of the surrounding city of Stanton. Whilst the majority of people have given up their smart phones and live under new laws banning surveillance, Green Valley have not. As the originators of the technology found to be spying on everyone, the company that owns the valley decide to withdraw from the world and live in isolated Virtual Reality. The two communities ignore one another until dead children begin to appear. Their appearance suggests only one thing; they are from Green Valley and something is very wrong.
Green Valley is the type of ideas science fiction that fans will really enjoy. What would happen if the world decided to retreat back to a time when technology was less evasive? The book does not stop here as Louis Greenberg adds more layers to an already intriguing idea. The technology that caused the retreat was far more advanced than our own; a world where you could live in eternal virtual reality, but a VR where things felt right. The people inside the Green Valley are living what they believe to be bliss, not really seeing what is around them.
The tone of the book soon starts to suggest that inside the giant concreate dome is not all sunshine and roses. This is exemplified by the discovery of dead child. It is here that we meet Lucie Sterling, who appears to be a researcher for the police, but is actually part of their shadowy network who are still using the banned technologies to spy on people. As a society no one really cares about the residents of Green Valley, but as Sterling’s niece lives there she has a vested interest in investigating.
There are some stand out moments in Green Valley, especially those sections set within the VR community. Greenberg is great at creating a sense of unease in the reader that gives this science fiction book horror elements. There are shades of Get Out and We Happy Few; what you are seeing is not quite right. I started to gird my loins quite early on in the book for some disturbing scenes and I was not disappointed. At times this is not an easy read, but it is an effecting one.
Greenberg deserves extra credit for creating an interesting world without slipping into reams of exposition. As a reader you learn a little bit here and a little bit there. Over the pages you start to build a picture of what this alternative future is and are able to come to some of your own conclusions. Among this clever world building is a decent crime element as Sterling looks for her niece, but it does play second fiddle to the idea of a broken virtual world.
With its clever ideas and great pacing, Green Valley is the type of science fiction book that will make a reader think a little, but is not overly complex that you become lost. If you have a strong stomach and like ideas science fiction, you will enjoy this book.
Written on 1st June 2019 by Sam Tyler.
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