Company Town

Image of Company Town
Release Date: 
May 16, 2016
Tor Books
Reviewed by: 

“Science fiction, noir, and dystopia wrapped into a highly entertaining, and well-crafted novel that is hard to put down.”

Part noirish mystery, part dystopian future, part coming of age tale, Company Town is an exciting, edgy, thrilling piece of science fiction storytelling.

Taking place sometime in the near future, Company Town is the story of Hwa, a bodyguard and security expert, on the oil rig city of Arcadia. One of a rare few, Hwa does not possess any bio-engineered enhancements or cyber technology within her body. She is considered a pure specimen by many, an abomination by others, and a sad disappointment by her former child pop star and current escort mother.

When Lynch Ltd purchases Arcadia, Hwa finds herself thrust into a world of riches and luxury she has never dreamed of. With robber baron like ruthlessness, Lynch Ltd takes over Arcadia and immediately begins to change it and shape it to its corporate will, all under the iron grip of the company's patriarch, the aged Zachariah Lynch.

Hwa finds herself as the bodyguard of Lynch's teenage son, a boy being groomed to take over for his father when the centenarian finally passes on, and her perception of how the rich and powerful live is challenged. She must protect the boy at all costs and the many conspiracies and evils on Arcadia put her to the test immediately.

A novel filled with action, mystery, brutal violence, tragedy, and a healthy dose of social commentary, Company Town pushes boundaries and forces the reader to accept a hero and protagonist that does not want to be a hero herself. It takes the reader into the very depths of human depravity as well as the heights of idealism and personal loyalty. Twists and turns with every chapter, Company Town is far from predictable all the way to the very end.

The only issue that could be said for Company Town is it is a story that could be told on almost any setting: a spaceship, an island, an isolated city/state, a far-off planetary colony. While filled with detailed world-building, Company Town is a very character heavy narrative and that lush world-building almost gets pushed aside. But this is a minor criticism and only proves the skill of Madeline Ashby's storytelling prowess as she creates characters the reader wants to learn more about.

For readers that love a good mystery, enjoy intense action, and gripping suspense—all coupled with an environment that could easily be part of humanity's future, Company Town is the go-to book. Science fiction, noir, and dystopia wrapped into a highly entertaining, and well-crafted novel that is hard to put down.