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Graft depicts a mesmerizing world of corruption
January 19, 2016
By Matt Hill
Angry Robot Books
Sci Fi & Fantasy
Pub Date: February 2, 2016
Graft has two definitions. Originally it referred to the transfer of a bodily part or material to another area. Now, it also refers to political corruption, the use of public resources for personal gain. To Matt Hill, Graft has elements of both meanings. On the one hand, it refers to Y's reconstruction, the addition of a third arm to make her a more valuable product. On the other hand it refers to the use of people as disposable resources by the rich and powerful.
The Manchester of Graft is a city in ruins. The people eke an existence using old technology, gathering and reusing scraps. Health and other social services are almost nonexistent, only available to the rich. Natural food is scarce. With so few resources, human value is diminished to almost nothing. Exploitation is rife.
Sol and his partner are mechanics, fulfilling contracts through scavenging and stealing parts. Stealing a luxury car is a risky act, but the potential rewards are great. In this case Sol gets more than he bargains for. In the trunk of the Lexus is a brutalized woman with three arms and no voice - a product for an undisclosed buyer. Y has no memory of her life before reconstruction, only disjointed memories of her training and breaking at the hands of her lord and master.
Sol's ex Mel does her best to get by and support the women who work in her brothel. Things start to change when a man comes, forcing a free trial upon her - a trial month with a constructed human designed to have minimal needs and a variety of options to maximize profit.
By coincidence Sol and his partner are hired to construct an armored vehicle designed to transport an undefined cargo safely across the country - a cargo none other than Y.
Despite the brutality of existence, Sol retains his compassion and humanity. He cares for Y, trying to repair her wounds and find her a place of safety. There is no safe place for Y, or for Sol after he becomes involved. Unlike others more capable and more powerful, he doesn't betray her. Instead he helps her find her purpose.
Do not expect a happy ending. There are none in either the world of Y's manufacture or the Manchester of Sol. Instead, readers are left with a flicker of hope in humanity, in the power of the individual to make a difference, even a small one by choice. It would have been easy for either of them to give up, but neither did, despite the likelihood of death. Even Mel, hard bitten and cold makes an effort to change the life of her women for the better. Life is measured by choices, even if the only choice is how to die. Graft's troubling, desperate world rings more true than that of many dystopian fantasies.
Graft is not a novel for everyone. The references to sexual degradation make it inappropriate for teens and younger readers. Human trafficking is central to the plot. Graft is well written, but some may be confused by the narration switching between the past and the present.
Graft is available for preorder and will be released February 2, 2016.
I received a copy of Graft from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Manchester, 2025. Local mechanic Sol steals old vehicles to meet the demand for spares. But when Sol's partner impulsively jacks a luxury model, Sol finds himself caught up in a nightmarish trans-dimensional human trafficking conspiracy.
Hidden in the stolen car is a voiceless, three-armed woman called Y. She's had her memory removed and undertaken a harrowing journey into a world she only vaguely recognises. And someone waiting in the UK expects her delivery at all costs.
Now Sol and Y are on the run from both Y's traffickers and the organisation's faithful products. With the help of a dangerous triggerman and Sol's ex, they must uncover the true, terrifying extent of the trafficking operation, or it's all over.
Not that there was much hope to start with.
A novel about the horror of exploitation and the weight of love, imagines a country in which too many people are only worth what's on their price tag.