Author: Tanvir Bush
Genre: General Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Release Date: 23rd January 2019
BLURB from Goodreads
A sharp and outrageous satire about the deadly dark side of discrimination Alex has a problem. Categorized as one of the disabled, dole-scrounging underclass, she is finding it hard to make ends meet. When in her part-time placement at the local newspaper she stumbles onto a troubling link between the disappearance of several homeless people, the government's new Care and Protect Act, and the Grassybanks Residential Home for the disabled, elderly and vulnerable, she knows she has to investigate further... but at what cost to herself and her guide dog Chris?
The first thing that attracted my interest to the book was in fact the cover. I think the cover though quite simplistic is presents a powerful image. The way the C in the word Cull is used to represent a wheelchair leaves the prospective reader in no doubt about what is trying to be “culled” in the book. I then read the blurb and felt a strong urge to read the book. With having health issue’s myself as well as looking after both my parents who had multiple health issues and both of them are or have been wheelchair uses too I could view the problems the characters have in this book from their point of view and the point of view as a carer too.
I have seen this book labelled as general fiction, sci-fi and dystopian. I would say that perhaps the sci-fi label could be a little off putting to some readers but I have to agree with the genres listed. The dystopian element is more of a futuristic slant of what could actually be happening in our present society. I suppose the Sci-Fi and Dystopian themes also refer to the “survival of the fittest” aspect of the book.
I really enjoyed reading this book from the point of view of Alex who is visually impaired and needs a guide dog. At first I thought I couldn’t like the sections done from the perspective of Chris, who is Alex’s guide dog but upon reading them I found some parts from Chris’ view point interesting too. I found the book thought provoking and I am sure some people will find the language used in it and some of the books perceptions to be controversial. This book takes place in a time that could well be coming to Britain soon. The government are making budget cuts to benefits and help they provide disabled people. Rather like we see, in our present day, people are dying and committing suicide rather than being made to feel a burden on society. There are also those elements of society who like to apportion blame for the “state of the country and its finances” on those less fortunate or with disabilities. In this book there are various incidents throughout where certain characters are verbally and physically abusive to the characters who have disabilities.
The government are putting money into extending a local facility called Grassybanks. The attitude of those in power is to find the cheapest way to take care of those that are costing them money. There is a group of Doctors and Professors that are running various schemes and building new hospital type equipment such as chiller beds and a machine called the resomator. In fact there is somewhat of a competition going on for who can "take care of the problem" the quickest.
The tables are turned at one point in the book where a movement calling themselves Boudicca try to show those in charge and working at Grassybanks what they are doing and how they would feel being treat the way they are doing with disabled people. I don't want to reveal much more as that would mean giving away spoilers.
I adored all the aspects of the character of the guide dog Chris. He is all serious when working, and in his harness and feels both responsible and protective of Alex. I thought the descriptions of the “off harness” times when Chris is obsessed about chasing a ball just like any other dog. There’s also the inevitable part when Chris is being cared for by a friend of Alex who has a baby. The baby is being fed and dropping food on the floor and though Chris knows he shouldn’t, he can’t seem to help himself from licking up the food.
My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading this book were that I found it interesting, thought provoking, as well as totally believable. Today's society isnt that far away from having chilling beds and resomator......who knows they may already exist somewhere.
I could seriously identify both with being a carer and also with having disabilities. The fight to be heard, get the diagnosis and the end up begging for help that is supposed to be readily available but you cannot seem to get access too no matter how much you beg, plead, cry, shout or scream for it! I have also been left with an uneasy feeling that this government is steering the country and it's people towards this type of society.