Published as part of the cyberpunk trend of the 80s, I feel like the quite excellent novel was overlooked at that time – at least, it was overlooked by me, a cyberpunk fan! I’m certainly glad I got around to reading it.
The setting: a convincingly believable near-future Brazil. The divide between rich and poor has only gotten worse. The rich live in luxury; the elite have access to a kind of implanted internet called The Wave. But most Brazilians live in the favelas, slums torn by gang violence.
Paulo and his best buddy from childhood were born to the elite – but due to political upheaval, are now forced to make their way as best they can in the favelas. But Paulo has an ambitious plan to unite the gangs and raise themselves from poverty.
Within the elite networks that control Brazil, genetically engineered families encourage young people to viciously plot and scheme against one another for supremacy. Here, another plot is going on, which also plans to use drug-running gangs as a dupe for covering up actions against competitors. In a moment of chaos, Zaide, a daughter of privilege, is thrown into contact with Paulo’s gang, and ends up uncovering her rival’s plot. But can she use the information she’s learned to catapult herself to power? Or will she use her family’s knowledge to help Paulo? Will the web of events surrounding her even leave her with a choice?
Good action, good plotting, unique takes on cyberpunk tropes, and unexpected, emotionally wrenching twists place this book far above average.