Series: Want #1
Published by Simon Pulse on June 13, 2017
Genres: Diversity, Science Fiction
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Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?
If you’re like me and you’ve been looking for a book with Asian representation that you can relate to but in a sci-fi or fantasy setting – Want will satisfy all your needs, as a story set in futuristic Taipei filled with technology, corporate infiltrations and Chinese characters who are fighting for equality.
There’s something that feels so incredibly comforting and familiar about Want, whether it’s the Chinese names that are used, fried noodles and dumplings being consumed, or simply just the values that the culture represents in a novel. The author combines the Chinese culture that feels so inherently familiar, and uses it to propel into a futuristic Taipei fuelled by corrupt corporations, and class segregation and the struggle between the rich and the poor. It was fascinating reading about the struggles of the mei, who have to breathe in polluted air and suffer from illnesses, malnutrition and death, living amongst the rich you people who recklessly spend their money on body modifications and lavish pastimes. I loved how the novel addressed issues such as inequality, corruption, pollution and profiteering in such a dynamic way.
My friends and I had debated for hours over our plan, back and forth, again and again. But in the end, the truth was a harsh and ugly one: in order to change the status quo, we had to be destructive. Seize control of the narrative. Redirect the plot.
What I liked even more was the plotline of Jason Zhou and his mei friends, who band together to take down the Jin corporation, responsible for corrupt business practices and profiting from environmental suits that only yous can afford. In essence, the storyline feels really familiar – it’s a heist story featuring identity swapping, an opulent rich setting with evil corporations, and some familiar spy maneuvers, such as posing as one of ‘them’ in order to find your way in. I loved seeing this story played out in the Taipei setting, bringing to life the city’s landmarks and people.
Amongst the Taipei setting, with a talented squad that you’d want to call your own, I found Want to be an incredible joy to read. I loved Jason and his band of skilled friends – from the self-assured hacker Lingyi, to the privileged you boy Victor, the surly Iris and skilled scientist Arun. The mutual support that they afforded each other was heartwarming to see, especially when Jason gets closer to the enemy’s daughter – Daiyu. Not only are his friends incredibly diverse in their skillset, it was awesome to see bisexual representation from within the group itself, with a f/f ship. I also really liked Jason himself – he’s dedicated to the cause of bringing about equality and a better future, but he is loyal to his friends and the people he cares about. He also has a softer side to him, as an introverted reader who feels slightly out of his depth posing as a you boy.
I’m never one to say I liked the romance, but I gotta say, I was a sucker for the ‘hidden identity’ romance here. With Daiyu’s natural grace, confidence and her solid sense of self where she behaves as she’s entitled to be wherever she wants – I could definitely see the appeal as well. What I loved about Daiyu is that she questions the internal biases about ‘the rich’, while she’s certainly rich and privileged, her sense of compassion and morality helps her stand out. Daiyu is someone who uses her status, her fame and her instincts for good, and we definitely need more people like her in the world.
With it’s corporation infiltration storyline, to the rich opulent setting, to the important issues of class segregation and inequality, I loved what the novel stands for. I also adored the Jason Zhou, Daiyu and the rest of the squad and it was fascinating to read about the technology as well. I definitely recommend Want to anyone looking for a bit of a twist to the sci-fi setting – it’s simply a joy to read.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Want is available from bookstores and can be purchased from The Book Depository.