I read Strikers while I was on vacation, and after I finished, I had a major book hangover for the rest of the trip. I couldn’t navigate myself out of the amazing dystopian world that Ann Christy created; a mix of old west and future bleakness, the Texas in the novel is a gritty, dusty, brutal police state. It is also home to Karas Quick, a teenage girl whose father has been missing for years and whose mother is an abusive alcoholic; thus, Karas must rely upon her own cunning and the help of her friends to survive.
A strict judicial system presides over Karas’ town; if someone breaks the law, they are tattooed with a strike upon their neck, hence the title of the book. Collect five strikes and you’re out of luck. The novel starts with Karas and her friends witnessing a group of Strikers being paraded through town toward their inevitable fates; as she watches, Karas is confronted with a surprise that will change her life and the lives of her friends, forcefully and irrevocably.
There are so many things that impressed me about this book. Firstly, Ann Christy builds worlds like nobody else I’ve read. I was immersed in the book, to the point where I felt coated with the same dust and heat with which the main characters struggled. Ms. Christy writes vividly and crisply; she is precise but not choppy. I had no trouble believing anything in the book. I can’t imagine the lengths she went to in terms of geographical and historical research to craft such a realistic world, from the vegetation to the communication, from topography to transportation.
Karas is a dimensional, nuanced character who withstands abuse, neglect, near-starvation, and the realization that most everything she has been told as fact is actually fiction. She is loyal and protective, qualities that are necessary in any well-crafted heroine; however, she is also flawed, as every good character must be.
The supporting cast of characters is fully realized. The relationships are powerful and poignant. I shed a few tears and may have cursed Ms. Christy occasionally.
5/5 Stars. Loved it! Deep, beautiful, vivid, sad, haunting; in short, everything a perfect dystopian novel should be!