Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

(9.0/10) Occupy Me is very funny and highly unusual.

Book of the Year 2016 (see all)

She works for the Resistance - an organisation dedicated to improving the world by stealth; by tiny, incremental acts of kindness. Her life is a bit of a mystery. Truth is, Pearl doesn’t really know what she is, let alone who she is.

And now she is on a pell-mell chase across the world. In pursuit of a killer wearing another man’s body. And the killer carries a suitcase. Which contains questions about not just a global conspiracy but the nature of reality and our place in the universe.

Tricia Sullivan, who won the Arthur C Clarke award for her novel Dreaming in Smoke, has written a fast-paced adventure where an amnesiac angel on a quest to get part of herself back from a man with a dimension-spanning suitcase gets dragged into a case of corporate fraud and an egomaniac who wants to live forever. It’s not your average sci fi book by any means, reminding me more of Lauren Beukes’ slightly alternative versions of our current world where weird things have crept in around the edges.

On the outside, Pearl looks like an ageing air hostess, but tucked away in a higher dimension are her wings and she can lift a fork lift truck. Working for the Resistance she subtly brushes against human lives, easing pain and coaxing out strength, but that subtlety is blown to smithereens when she comes face to face with the man who stole the part of her which means she is trapped on Earth, unable to access her birthplace and her memories from beyond her awakening within a fridge on a dump site. Definitely not your average sci fi novel. And that’s why I really enjoyed it - there was the mystery of Dr Sorle who gets taken over by another personality and dragged into the skimming of funds from a huge oil corporation, but also the melting of the boundaries of our reality, with time and dimensions being twisted around to epic proportions. Often I had no idea what was going on and just had to go along with the ride with Pearl as she pieces back together her past and purpose.

Occupy Me is very funny and highly unusual, not least of which is having a main character who isn’t just an angel, but a middle aged, black lesbian. It’s highly imaginative, difficult to categorise, and frequently bizarre. But what it has done is inspired me to go and read Sullivan’s other work because like Lauren Beukes, her stories certainly stand out out from the pack.

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