Escapology by Ren Warom

8/10 The Matrix for a new generation.

This is Ren Warom's debut novel after penning her ebook, The Lonely Dark. Foon Gung happens to be the only place for people to live after the world broke. City hubs and Land Ships were where the rest of the population lived, or should that be existed?

Of all the people in Foon Gung, Shock Pao is the main character classified as a Fail due to his failing a Psych evaluation, he has to earn money as a Haunt in the Gung underworld. If he'd been good enough, he would have been a Pass, but a dull, monotonous life like that was more like death for Shock. Instead, he is a hacker that keeps him in work, though this new job could be the death of him.

Escapology is the story of one man hoping to earn enough money to be able to leave his existence as a Haunt and go get a decent life, where he hoped to get to the Sendai District. There the top class of Fail society would pay a lot for illegal jobs he could do with ease. That was when he met Mimic (Mim). They used to be an item, when she caused problems with him and his clients, it ended any trust he had in her as her actions caused his having a death sentence put on him. Most wonder why he still hangs with her, but he'll stick with her as he was all alone before he met her. Mim is a Level 6 hacker who gets Shock jobs, while he helps her out with jobs that need a higher hack level.

Shock's life is a series of parties, drugs and hacking, all the while hoping he will get a better life and a way out of the doldrums. Shock's wary of Mim and he has good reason when she sends him to a party and it's hers. His problem? She sets him up with Joon, someone he owes money to and has to pay-up on the spot. Shock thinks it might be time to get rid of Mim as she's getting too much to handle. With cash called flim and drugs called bumps, this is a pill-addled jump through the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole where weirdness is all too real for the characters.

Ren has the ability to weave a strange story in such a way as it can feel like you are being opened to a whole new world, much like a revitalising of the popular movie, The Matrix for a new generation.

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