Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Clean Air by Sarah Blake


DNF @ p.229

At first I was kind of into this book. It reminded me of old school female sci-fi by authors like Sheri S. Teper or Octavia Butler. But then the book got weird. First of all, the premise is one of the most unusual post-apoc premises I've encountered in a while. Climate change has triggered a pollination event that has caused the air to have unhealthy levels of pollen, killing off the young and old and causing respiratory failure in basically everyone who doesn't have precautions in place.

Izabel and Kaito are an interracial couple with a young daughter named Cami. One day, they go to bed and wake up to find their daughter not breathing. Someone has slashed into their protections, leaving them vulnerable to the toxic air. It turns out to be a serial killer who is murdering other families in this way.

I liked the thriller element at first but then this book started getting really weird. The author chose to make people psychic for some reason, maybe in homage to how so many 70s sci-fi novels inexplicably had people being psychic, but there's no explanation for it. And yet, the police have an on-call psychic to make people give psychic confessions and people Medium in their sleep, so idk. It felt like a deus ex machina to me, and really left a big gaping plot bunny in the narrative.

The writing is very clean and I liked the diverse cast of characters. At one point, Izabel and Kaito end up taking in a Muslim girl who wears a hijab and there are numerous other PoC characters in this world. I think if you like trippy vintage sci-fi you'll enjoy this more than I did. At least the cover is super pretty. My copy made the dew drops on the blueberries a different kind of plastic so they glisten as if the cover is actually wet. I love the cover and the premise and wish this had worked for me more than it actually did.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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