Spares by Alec McQuay

(6.0/10)

In Spares, a virus has caused humanity to gain immortality, no one seems to know why, but at first it was thought that god granted them this. Unfortunately with the world still holding a number of different religious ideologies, it wasn’t long before humanity was at war with each other. Spares is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where life is hard for the majority of people. In this novel we follow a gang making their way through their long lives doing what most people do, trying to make ends meet.

It wasn’t until people began fighting each other that they realised the downside to being immortal was that although you couldn’t die your body could be destroyed. This gives us the premise of the book’s title. As each member of the gang is made up of spare parts that have been stitched together or modified to their own specifications. Spares narrator, who doesn’t give his name to either his friends or us, has a number of parts that aren’t his own, including a leg that isn’t the same size as the original.

The gang of people we follow via the nameless narrator are: Anders, who is their leader and a powerhouse of muscle, Mallory, who apparently has the body of a goddess, Deacon, who is the narrator’s main antagonist and Holden who tries to keep everything light-hearted. The narrator has a mysterious past that he won’t discuss with the others. Even though these characters have been alive for a long time, they felt more like young adults playing at life for kicks, this is due to the virus as you never age from the moment the virus struck. The group dynamic is slightly odd as the boys all seem to be in love with the sole female member Mallory.  With their longer life spans you would think that people would have learnt the lessons gained from the past by now.

The story also feels like it is reflecting the political positions of our world’s elite. This is because there are two classes of society after the wars, the touched and the untouched. The untouched are the rich people that sent people to fight their wars but didn’t participate themselves. They do not interact with the touched (those who fought their wars). There are many new rules to reflect the changes in society, such as female sterilisation so that the population no longer grows if there is no death to counterbalance this. Spares is an interesting although not in-depth look into class, religion and how easy it is to ignore what you don’t want to see.

This is a book about body horror, if spare parts are at a premium how do you cope with your body no longer being your own? The surgeons who sew these patchwork humans together still need skills but as long as your brain is intact your body will reject the replacements. How many people were lost in the wars as there was not enough of their basic self to put back together, or before they realised that this could be done? As humanity continues without changing, the world they live in has become more savage and there is no longer a need for selflessness. There is a loss of feeling if you no longer wonder where these parts are coming from.

Although I found Spares to be an enjoyable read with a lot of good ideas, I found that the ending of the book was quite abrupt which felt slightly unsatisfactory. It maybe that McQuay had a different ending in mind, but wasn’t sure if there were to be more books to follow this, or if this was a stand alone book that there was nowhere else to go.

Review by

15+

Spares reader reviews

6/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi [...]


Published: 2006

Score: 113

Our rating: 10.0 | 13 positive reader reviews

15+

1984

by George Orwell

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag [...]


Published: 1949

Score: 103

Our rating: 10.0 | 3 positive reader reviews

15+

Metro 2033

by Dmitry Glukhovsky

The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun [...]


Published: 2005

Score: 108

Our rating: 9.9 | 9 positive reader reviews

15+

Swan Song

by Robert McCammon

Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres [...]


Published: 1987

Score: 127

Our rating: 9.8 | 29 positive reader reviews

15+

The Last Man Standing

by Davide Longo

Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa [...]


Published: 2012

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.6 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+

The Chimes

by Anna Smaill

A boy stands on the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain.No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment.No directions, as w [...]


Published: 2015

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Animal Farm is set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. Howeve [...]


Published: 1945

Score: 137

Our rating: 9.5 | 42 positive reader reviews

12+

The Drowned World

by JG Ballard

Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows [...]


Published: 1962

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo [...]


Published: 2003

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.5 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+