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** - The Ten Percent Thief


THE TEN PERCENT THIEF

LAVANYA LAKSHMINARAYAN

**

A bold, bitingly satirical near-future mosaic novel about a city run along 'meritocratic' lines, the injustice it creates, and the revolution that will destroy it.


Nothing has happened. Not yet, anyway. This is how all things begin.


Welcome to Apex City, formerly Bangalore, where everything is decided by the mathematically perfect Bell Curve.


With the right image, values and opinions, you can ascend to the glittering heights of the Twenty Percent – the Virtual elite – and have the world at your feet. Otherwise you risk falling to the precarious Ten Percent, and deportation to the ranks of the Analogs, with no access to electricity, running water or even humanity.


The system has no flaws. Until the elusive “Ten Percent Thief” steals a single jacaranda seed from the Virtual city and plants a revolution in the barren soil of the Analog world.


Previously published in South Asia only as Analog/Virtual, The Ten Percent Thief is a striking debut by a ferocious new talent.


MY REVIEW **

About 50% of the way into The Ten Percent Thief, I had to go and check on Goodreads as to whether this book actually had a plot or if it was just supposed to be a collection of short stories.


The premise of the book is really great - a society of Virtuals who are heavily reliant on technology and use metrics to weed out the lowest 10% and banish them to an Analogue existence outside the city walls. There is a bit of an over-load of new phrases, companies and technologies which, to be honest feels a little cringey at times. These don’t seem to be subtly added or woven into the world building, but instead feel like an onslaught at the beginning and this doesn’t really let up as we get further into the story.


Each chapter is a different perspective and reveals the darker side of the Virtuals’ lives and the Bell Curve which governs them. Some of the stories I was really hooked on, some didn’t seem necessary. My main issue was that even though some of them were great, once that chapter was done we didn’t really see that character again, although a few of them have token cameos in other chapters. Due to this technique, there were a lot of characters introduced and I didn’t feel that I really got to know any of them properly. Then if they were referenced later on, it lost a lot of its impact as I struggled to remember who they were and which story they belonged to. The exception to this rule was Nina, but that was only because they kept describing her as ‘the girl that played the piano’ in other chapters!


The book does have a slow burning plot about the revolution, however although we are fully invested in the fact that the Virtual world deserves to crash and burn, the characters of the resistance, even the ‘The Ten Percent Thief’ are very under-developed. I think if the book just focused on a limited amount of perspectives, it could have really developed those characters more and inter-woven the stories so that we felt the narrative thread all of the way through the story.


Overall, The Ten Percent Thief is a great premise but it’s a narrative mess with too many characters and a lack of strong plot to guide it. Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion – Solaris for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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