Macmillan Tor (US: 20th September 2016; AU: 11th October 2016)
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NOTE: I first published this review as part of the group “My Favorite Things” column on Speculative Chic, 6th February 2017.
Some stories have more resonance if you read them at a particular time.
I didn’t plan for Kristen Simmons’s Metaltown to be my first read of 2017, but that’s when my library copy arrived. The novel felt instantly familiar, as it fits the classic underdog plot. But instead of a feel-good story, Metaltown is dark and dystopian – and not everyone gets a happy ending.
Mostly the story rings true because it shows how to create change.
Ty and Colin work in the small parts section of a manufacturer. There are no health benefits, and they often aren’t paid in a timely manner, enough, or at all. A workplace accident leads to acid burns and a lost job. Ty has nothing left to lose – she’s now an unemployed, homeless orphan, and even her best friend Colin seems to be slipping away from her. And so Ty does what she can lead a “press”, a workers’ strike, against the manufacturer.
But she can’t do it alone. One person can’t be the entire movement in order to create real change. Ty needs the entire small parts section – and other sections, too – to band together in the press. If everyone stops work, the manufacturer will be forced to employ and train more workers. That will make it more difficult for the company to fill the order for their products. This will be bad for business, so the manufacturer has something to lose unless they agree to the workers’ demands.
Can one person make a difference? Maybe. But there’s strength in numbers, and we can’t expect one person to shoulder all the responsibility. We each need to find our personal tipping point; what we’re willing to risk for the greater good. We must PRESS BACK.
Metaltown is a timely read that I won’t soon forget.