Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Becoming Terran, by Mark Roth-Whitworth

Novus Mundi Books, February 2024

It's 2077, with climate change hitting hard, trillionaires bent on world control, and ordinary people in many places struggling to survive.

A young woman from Niger is working in a hotel in North Africa, when it is seized by one of those trillionaires, Phillippe Tolliver. She catches his attention, and manages to impress him enough that he decides she worth recruiting as his newest personal aide. Renamed Francoise Trouve, she insists on taking her little sister, renamed Amelie, with her.

She takes advantage of all the education he gives her, by AR and intense study, and her sister is tutored until she's sent off to an elite private school in England. They both get genetic engineering to soften their curls and lighten their skin, and Francoise works hard at making herself indispensable to him. First as his aide,and later as a skilled business operative he can send into any of his corporations, both to learn more herself and identify and solve problems, she does.

But Tolliver has recruited someone who will be useful only as long as it serves her greater goal, which is no longer just advancing herself and her sister. As she has learned more about Tolliver, and about the 400 trillionaires who don't believe they'll have enough power until their control is total, She wants to bring them down.

The story, and the world, are a bit dark, but absorbing, with good worldbuilding and good characters. Francoise is already a strong woman when we meet here, and grows in knowledge, understanding, and judgment. Amelie, a little girl at the start, also grows into a strong woman, with a different temperament entirely, but the same values--and the same ultimate goals, though she pursues them by her own path.

There's political intrigue, business intrigue, other interesting characters who are varied and important to the beneath the radar struggle in their own ways. This is in the end a thoughtful and hopeful book.

I received this electronic galley as a gift.

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