“The Rivers. A spiderweb of alleys for the drunk and destitute, weaved together from stones and shadow. Winding backstreets forking off like rotten veins plunging into every shady corner. The greasy smell of glass noodles and exhaust fumes from late night scooters. Neon blinking on every grimy surface and crooked alleys disappearing into a black and sorry night. Home.”
– Daganae Kawasaki –
This Ragged, Wastrel Thing
After eleven years of imprisonment in ‘The Heights’ for murdering his girlfriend Hana, Daganae Kawasaki is finally free; released back into Sonaya, a gritty dystopian city of immense contrasts, from the powerful and the powerless, the rich and the impoverished, lavish rooftop parties and cramped slums bursting with deserted, neglected children, Daganae sets out to discover the truth behind his incarceration. Yet, upon his release, it becomes increasingly apparent that Daganae’s freedom does not suit some people’s agenda, and a new murder case is pinned on him; entangled in this situation, Daganae comes face-to-face with his past, and must navigate the corruption of the city and the individuals that stand in his way, in order to truly take hold of his freedom.
This is the first time I have read a book like this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps my favourite aspect of This Ragged, Wastrel Thing was the construction of the world in which the story is set; Sonaya, with all of its strange and dystopian rules, from the taxation rates based upon attractiveness that results in inhabitants striving for ugliness in order to achieve employment and lower tax rates, the banning of meat, internet and phones, to the plethora of government drones that scan the city to monitor and control any activity. The descriptions of the setting were well-balanced with the narrative and plot, and were extremely vivid and captivating; the blinding neon-lit streets, the dingy, seedy bars and alleyways, as well as the smells and sounds of the city all served to create an atmosphere and tone that were incredibly unique and realistic, despite its fictionality.
Another element of This Ragged, Wastrel Thing that I really enjoyed was the range of fascinating and quirky characters; each added a unique dimension to the plot and contributed to the overall impression of Sonaya. By extension, interpreting these characters through the eyes and mind of Daganae was also interesting, as it reveals information about him as much as it does them. The pace of the book was also spot on; Marcantonio does a fantastic job at building a sense of tension throughout the book that culminates in the final 50 or so pages, and I genuinely did not see the twists and turns coming – I cannot wait to jump back into the bizarre but wonderful world of Sonaya in the next two books of this trilogy.
Thanks so much to Storgy for sending me a review copy of the book; it is released August, and I cannot recommend it enough!
Thank you for reading. ❤