As someone who has read mostly fantasy and is just venturing into the world of classics, where so far everything is peaceful and everyone seems to be in touch with nature, plunging into the dystopian world of Centricity by Nathaniel Henderson felt absolutely terrifying. While I’ve read a few dystopian novels before (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Matched by Ally Condie), Centricity differs in that it centers on society’s extreme dependence on technology for survival, and when I say “extreme dependence,” I mean they have chips attached to their brains. Because of the aid of technology to advance human life, this to me feels closer to reality. I mean I heavily rely on my laptop and internet connection to earn money.
Having previously read two children’s classics that are light in tone, I found Centricity to be too violent (which the author warned me of beforehand) and very technology-heavy. It took some time getting used to terms like “brainware,” “bandwidth” and “code tags,” as well as keeping up with the many character names and places in the beginning. But once I got to know the residents of the city of Naion and what they did for a living, I started to understand their importance in the story and even cared for some of them, most of all Nik.
Nik is a twenty-nine-year-old self-employed IT specialist, who, after having received a seemingly unimportant inheritance from a friend of his father’s, finds himself the target of many killers. Out of all the characters, Nik is someone I’d actually want to hang out with, despite his faults, as he is to me the most soulful character. While I did care for a few others, like Adasha, I feel as if the rest of the characters are all about their mission, showing as little emotion as possible.
In my imagination, the city of Naion is busy and overcrowded with people, machines and buildings—a city full of neon lights that I’m actually wishing the book cover glows in the dark (just like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan). In Naion, almost everything seems to be hackable and virtual, and your daily life can be easily exposed. I’d be extremely paranoid if I were living in this dangerous, chaotic world. It’s a scary future to live in, with disasters at every corner.
Centricity is my first cyberpunk read. The book is long and a little complex, but once I got used to the technological terms and familiarized myself with the names and places, the reading went by quickly because it got exciting and fast-paced. I wanted to know more about the inheritance and how it connects to all the characters. I especially enjoyed the different sides of the story through several points of view. Overall, the story felt like an action movie. I recommend this book to readers of spy thrillers and dystopian novels and to readers like me who’d love to experience a variety of genres.
“Dead ends were rarely dead; one must climb a wall, find a window.”
Centricity by Nathaniel Henderson is the first book of the Centricity Cycle series and will be released on October 20, 2020. I’ve received a free advanced reader copy from the author.