Review: Company Town

CompanyTown-72dpiTitle: Company Town
Author: Madeline Ashby
Pages: 285
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Summary: Hwa is a rarity. She’s a pure, non-augmented human. She’s hired to protect the heir to the corporation that owns her floating city. When her new job leads to the deaths of her former colleagues and friends, Hwa must solve the mystery of their deaths without neglecting her new responsibilities.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Company Town presents an interesting future world, but I had a lot of difficulty grasping the setting. There are five towers…and an oil rig…they float(?) in the middle of the water…in Canada…but I never really felt a sense of place while reading. The story jumps around from place to place without firmly establishing any one location.

I think there was untapped potential with the high school setting and storyline. You have an older, gruff protagonist who is thrust back into a high school where she is out of place and uncomfortable, but there are no 21 Jump Street fish-out-of-water hijinks. Something like that could have acted to humanize Hwa and provide some levity in a very dark story. Any scene involving the high school devolves into chaos (i.e., first day of school is disrupted by a gun-toting assassin, homecoming is disrupted by an adult party and a murdered guest, etc.).

In the end, though, Hwa is a flawed, yet sympathetic protagonist, but her story never quite hooked me. I always felt on the periphery of the action and had a hard time visualizing what was occurring. A better dedication to worldbuilding would have benefitted this story and my interest in it.

★★½ out of 5

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