I'd seen this book floating around Goodreads for a while, and my curiosity was whetted. Punk rock dystopic crime thriller? Sounds cool! So, when the opportunity came up to read it... I took it.
What's good here is the plot. It's an action-packed, violent book with nicely interlocking events involving several different low-lives and druglords all chasing after a mysterious vial, with the ultimate goal of escaping the island. It's quick-moving, good fun, and that brings it up to three stars.
However - I have to admit that this felt like the work of a new author. I felt like it was... missing some bits. The characterization was sketchy-to-nonexistent. No one had any internal dialogue going on. This made a lot of the action opaque. Although there are a lot of colorful characters, they felt a bit cartoonish.
Mileage may vary, but I also found the author's technique of presenting an event, and then doubling back to show a different character's perspective of what led up to that event, to be distracting.
It's also missing the background. Where are these people? All the names are Eastern European, but they feel culturally British or American. What is this island that they're on, and why aren't they supposed to leave? I've read intentionally vague dystopic settings where the lack of specificity worked. Here, I just felt like it made the characters' motivations unnecessarily mysterious.
Also, people didn't really behave according to their specified characteristics. Nikolai is supposed to be a junkie - but we don't see him (let alone feel him) really jonesing for drugs. He kind of just seems like a generic loser. Katja is supposed to be a musician - but aside from a few quick references to past bandmates, and the fact that she drags around a guitar (which she uses for various purposes, but never plays), she never really thinks about music. Katja also has a (permanent, its implied) tracheotomy tube - but there's no mention of her having any difficulty with speech, difficulty being understood, or physical discomfort. The various villains and other people - no idea how they became to be who they are, or why.
I know there's a sequel to this - maybe more is explained later?
One last nitpicky thing (not a criticism of the book) - the girl pictured on the cover does not have Liberty spikes. Get your punk haircuts right, art team! ;-)
Thanks to NetGalley for the copy of the book!