Monday, January 2, 2017

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

Reading, writing, and drinking coffee. A good life. 

Soon as I read the blurb, I had to get Ben H. Winters' Underground Airlines: “It is the present day and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking, Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred…. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states, the Hard Four.” Victor is a bounty hunter for the U.S. Marshals tracking and returning slaves back into bondage. It’s a perfect pitch and I was hooked but worried it wouldn’t hold together.
It did. All the way through.
The book felt too real. I kept thinking that if President Obama had ended slavery, Republicans would be convening this week to implement it again. Their incoming president paved the way in his campaign. Within the year, slavery would stain us all and there would be calls to put the entire Obama family in chains.
This I believe.
We are beginning a cold season that will last four to eight years. Ben H. Winters has created a world that isn’t quite dystopian; it’s too much like ours. He shows what happens when we sanction darkness even implicitly. He wrote the book before the election, but I imagine him watching the light flicker, knowing he wasn’t off the mark in the least.
It’s a good and important book without being an arduous read. It’s a thriller that I read in three days and would have read faster if not for family and sleep. Winters writes well, keeps the story taut and pulling, and had me thinking what life could be like and what it already is like.

Hurry up and read Underground Airlines so we can talk about it.