Tuesday, September 24, 2019

#SPFBO5 Book Review: TAIKA TOWN by Drew Montgomery


Title: Taika Town

Author: Drew Montgomery

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 22, 2018

Rating: 7.5/10


TAIKA TOWN takes place in a setting reminiscent of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon.  This SF Noir setting of Kansmark is the perfect backdrop for the intense political conflict and mystery that takes place within this intriguing and thought-provoking SF story.  

The Taika and Rauka live side by side in a tentative state of tolerance these days, but old suspicions and prejudices die hard and the Taika are still viewed as second-class citizens by the majority of non-Taika citizens and also the current government.  You see the Taika possess magical powers that the rest of the populace simply don't understand.  Things got so bad that a century before a brutal civil-war was fought and the Taika were ultimately bludgeoned into submission.

In the intervening years since that war, the Taika have gained only a slight modicum of freedom and their use of magic has been relegated entirely.  Numerous laws have been put into place that allow the Taika to exist in their own enclaves, but that existence comes with much oppression and prejudice.  In the opeining chapters of the book we see various political parties battling it out in a highly-heated election, some who want the Taika to have equal rights once and for all but also others who wish to see them enslaved as they were before they rose up and fought back over 100 years ago

Complicating matters for those who wish for Taika equality is a rebel faction known as the Livalta. They carry out targeted bombings and strategic attacks on Rauka interests in an effort to force change and bring awareness to the Taika cause.  Some think they are doing more harm than good however as the Rauka political leaders point to these violent attacks as a reason to argue that the Taika should be kept in check and remain "controlled".

Enter main character and private investigator Jack Larsen who himself is Taika-born.  Jack is hired by the personal assistant to the biggest pro-Taika candidate in the election.  She is convinced that someone in the city with big connections has put a hit out on her boss.  It's obvious that there are certain people in Kansmak who want to make sure that he never gets to implement his pro-Taika agenda.  What Jack eventually uncovers in his investigation is shocking and could also change the future of the Taika people forever.

I really liked TAIKA TOWN on a number of different levels.  The setting is so well-done and depicts a futuristic city where there is definitely a dividing line between the two classes of people living there.  The Rauka who are the "haves" live in relative prosperity and cleanliness while the Taika who are the "have-nots" live in what could only be termed as squalor and poverty where gangs rule their neighborhoods.

This book has so many echoes of what is happening in our world today in various countries.  You can make definite connections to racial and ethnic injustices occuring in different parts of the world including right here in my own country, the United States.  So there is an underlying message in this story that speaks to prejudice, racism, and the stereotyping of an entire segment of people.  I won't get overly political or make any personal comments in this regard, but I do want to point out that when you read this book it is simply unavoidable to not think of today's headlines.

Getting back to the SF part of the book though, this is a really engaging story with a side-mystery that truly makes the book a winner for me.  I thought that the world-building was solid and the political angle really held my interest throughout.  Part of the reason why is that the history behind the main story of the Taika people and their oppression was laid out in the beginning of the book so well.  I became instantly invested in who was going to win the election and how things would shake out afterward.

I was very impressed by this book and although there were moments in the middle where it slowed down considerably, I felt that the conclusion made up for that lull in the action somewhat.  TAIKA TOWN is an enjoyable SF Noir book with a social message.  I did not expect that going in and I'm happy to say that what I came away with in the end was a well-rounded story full of suspense, political intrigue, characters who fight for what they believe in, and pretty darn good writing to boot.  Check out TAIKA TOWN if you haven't already, it will be well worth your time and effort to do so.

2 comments:

  1. This is NOT AT ALL what I expected from this book with that cover and it being a noir! Sounds like there is a lot going on with it -- and far more of a fantasy element than I'd realised. Thank you for the review!

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  2. Me either Victoria. I was definitely surprised but I guess that's why they say you can't judge a book by its cover right? Thanks for the comment!

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