It’s been four years since Bev Prescott has published a book. That book was Blowback and it was pretty amazing. Needless to say, I’ve been anxiously waiting for Prescott’s next offering. We’d been hearing about it for a while. Prescott teased us as we waited – updates, excerpts, cover reveals, etc. It was maddening, I say! Maddening!
But, oh, it was so worth the wait.
Bywater Books released 2° in September, but those of us lucky enough to attend a Bywater Books sponsored event at the GCLS Conference in July got to hear Prescott give a reading from her book. The anticipation just built! I’m very happy to say that 2° exceeded my expectations. Prescott offers up an epic action/adventure that is ripe with wonderful characters who are three-dimensional, intelligent and creative prose, and a rich setting.
The book starts at a run. Almost quite literally. The main protagonist, Sharon, and her wife, Eve, are hurrying through the overcrowded streets of Boston – doing all they can to move quickly, while remaining unnoticed and safe. By the end of the chapter, they are neither unnoticed nor safe. And so the adventure begins! From that point on, we follow Sharon on her desperate journey to find Eve, who has been kidnapped. Along the way, Sharon battles obstacles, meets interesting people, and searches for her own humanity in an inhumane world.
Sharon is the main focus of 2° – it is her story we follow, we are privy only to her insights. She struggles with her own humanity, telling herself that only Eve matters and no one else. But along the way, she meets up with people who chip away at the armor she has created for herself. And, thus, we see great change and growth in Sharon. The armor never goes away, but Sharon learns when it’s safe to remove the armor and when it’s necessary to lock it in place. She’s a fascinating character…and someone I’d like to know.
The remaining cast of characters – friend and foe, alike – are intriguing. From Inu – the 10-year-old refugee boy she takes into her charge – to Federico to Woody and even the Strelitzia – the calculating villain – Prescott gifts us with a collection of people who are diverse, interesting, and mysterious. They all contribute to Sharon’s evolution throughout the adventure. She learns to trust while still maintaining her ability to bob-and-weave.
The writing in 2° is just exceptional. Prescott has found a way to integrate multiple branches of science, politics, and action/adventure into her story. And she does so with aplomb and intelligence. What I especially appreciate is that she does so without condescension. She takes for granted that her readers are astute, able to follow the narrative she’s put forth. Yes, there are explanations of the science – we are not all botanists or climatologists. But it’s done so in a way that doesn’t use monosyllabic terminology. She doesn’t over explain, she doesn’t under explain. It’s quite refreshing.
In addition to science, there is also science fiction, and Prescott has created a world that is at once fantastical and believable. The transports and weapons are interesting and creative – and I didn’t even blink when I read about them. I was like, “Yeah. Okay. I can totally see that.” Just phenomenal!
2° highlights the effects of what’s happening in our world right now. Prescott has extrapolated from current politics and science to show us a potential outcome. But, while she definitely shows the impact of poor governance and policy, she also puts so much of the blame where it belong – on us, humans. There is an overriding sense of “This is what we have done to ourselves” throughout the book. But there is also hope – if we listen to Earth, if we learn, we can survive.
This is one of those novels where the setting serves as a main character in the story. Sharon traverses a great portion of the United States during her journey to save Eve. Prescott’s talent at describing her re-imaging of the land is to be applauded. She takes us across the country and through areas that are well-known, and not just to those of us who live here. As a resident of Northern Illinois, Prescott’s depiction of Chicago in 2092 may very well give me bad dreams. She pinpointed many of the city landmarks that make Chicago what it is in 2018. To read of those landmarks being destroyed and desolate is heartbreaking. The destruction of national monuments and the natural beauty of the country made me sit back and remember to breathe. Prescott brought the world of 2092 to frightening life.
From the fist page of 2° until the end, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. My heart beat a rapid tattoo whenever Sharon and the Qaunik were fighting for their lives. I cried as Sharon’s armor developed the chinks that exposed her humanity to the world, and when beloved friends fell prey to evil. Prescott tapped into my emotions while taking me on this harrowing – but splendid – ride.
Hurry. Get a copy of 2° and let yourself fall into Prescott’s fantastic writing and storytelling. It will SO be worth it!