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Review: 84K by Claire North

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84K by Claire North // VBC84K
Claire North
Published: May 24, 2018 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 2 stars

Life in our world has changed—it’s become nothing but a number, an amount of worth. Everyone has worth—except for those who don’t. And in this world, any crime is ok, as long as those who commit it can pay the price. Theo is one of those who figure out what that price is—he’s like an insurance adjustor, only for crime. Murder is worth a certain amount, but…there may be extenuating circumstances.

Was the murder justified because of self-defense? Because someone was cheating? That might mean that the literal monetary cost of the murder drops. Anyone who can pay the balance due is able to pursue whatever crimes they wish, with no other penalty than a slightly lighter bank balance. Theo moves through this world, never making waves, keeping his head down and not attracting attention. Because Theo has a secret. It’s not until he recognizes one of the victims whose paperwork comes through his office that things change for him.

The world is as we know it now, though with more of a dystopian feel. Everything is owned/run by The Corporation. Officially, there are no homeless, no prostitutes, no downtrodden. Realistically, they’ve all been shunted away to what passes for jails and put into work parties, where they can (and usually do) disappear without a trace.

The characters in this world were, with only one exception, unlikeable. From the main character, who literally has a job justifying crimes for a price, to all those around him who, in their own ways, are no better than he is. This is a world where someone can literally cease to exist, and someone else can literally become that person AND NO ONE WILL REALIZE. The only character who I felt truly had any redeeming qualities was one that Theo spends a bit of time with on a boat.

As for story itself, it is told in a stream-of-consciousness style that is very off-putting. Characters will interject without much warning, and it caused me to stop frequently to go back and try to figure out who the last person talking was and who was talking this time. It’s very hard to keep track of the events, who is speaking, and what is supposed to be happening. It also didn’t help that Theo would frequently interject into something with his mental estimation of how much that would have cost, which threw me off track AND seemed morbid at the same time. It wasn’t something that happened once or twice, but frequently, and typically related to someone getting maimed or killed.

Overall, I just did not like 84K. It was hard to get into, and I really struggled to finish. It’s rare that I have this reaction to a book, but between the hard-to-read story and the unlikeable characters, it really was not something I would be able to recommend to anyone.

Sexual content: none

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