Condition: Book One by Alec Birri

Quite a lot of dystopian fiction has ended up on  my reading radar in recent months.  This book is particularly interesting …

Condition: Book One by Alec Birri

‘The aircraft came to a halt and the fire spread.’
The first character we meet in the novel identifies himself as Squadron Leader Daniel Stewart. He’s in hospital, where he appears to be recovering from severe burns incurred in a plane crash. He has memory loss, not surprising given the extent of the trauma he’s suffered. It gradually becomes apparent (to both Dan and the reader) that what Dan remembers is just one aspect of a convoluted and detailed series of events.

I almost didn’t finish this novel: aspects of the first part of the story irritated me, as did the behaviour of some of the characters presented as medical professionals. I kept reading. It became clear that there was more to the story than I’d thought, and as different layers became apparent, I became more caught up in the story. I came to appreciate the way in which Mr Birri developed this story.

‘What’s really happened to me and everyone else in this place?’

This is the first book in a proposed trilogy. My assumption is that the detail provided in the first book will be important scene-setting for the balance of the trilogy. I am certainly interested enough to hope to read the second book soon, to see how the story develops. The novel raises several ethical issues, as well as both the advantages and disadvantages of medical advances. Where do we draw the line or, perhaps more accurately, where is the line being drawn for us? Who can we trust?

‘If the public thinks voluntary euthanasia is controversial, wait until they discover what the cure for Alzheimer’s disease really means.’

Note: My thanks to Troubadour Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith