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The Million (Book Review)

The Million is a wildly inventive world, featuring startling wealth and awe-inspiring technology. Amidst this splendor is a well done, intricately written sleuth story, pitting a young man against the elite as he tries to solve the mystery of his family’s betrayal. It’s a must read.

THE MILLION

Karl Schroeder
Tor.com, August 2018

QUICK SUMMARY

After a conspiracy threatens his existence, a young man is forced to don a new identity to infiltrate the highest rungs of power. Through his actions, and those of one of the most powerful women in the world, they begin to unravel a plot that could change their society forever.

Spoiler

WHY I LOVED IT

THE ORIGINALITY

The Million is awesomely original, showing us a version of the world where population control has drastically changed the climate and the landscape. With only a million people allowed to traverse the daily world, it’s become a paradise again amidst the empty cities. The originality lies in the flipping of class constructs, turning the custodians of the world into the bajillionaires in charge of maintaining it all. It’s hard to know who controls who, and that remains the primary conflict we’re left with at the end.

THE SHEER VOLUME OF RICHES

I’ve never read a world where wealth was so blatantly available in every corner of the narrative. People are drowning in riches, surrounded by enormous palaces, personal armies of robots, factories that create anything and everything they could ever want. The poorest among the million are billionaires, and the richest live in floating cities, making million dollar entrances every time they arrive somewhere. It’s literally the scene from Aladdin when the genie heads into the palace, EVERY time a new person arrives in Venice. I was awestruck by all of it.

POPULATION CONTROL

This was a truly fascinating concept. People are essentially given eternal life if they agree to be frozen into a tube, living eons in virtual worlds, minus the one month they get every thirty years. They get to live for eternity and, in return, the custodians of the world live as billionaires. It’s a fascinating concept, especially given their awareness of other worlds and other alien civilizations. They have cordoned themselves off from the rest of the universe to follow this extreme protocol. The Earth is back to its former beauty and peace seems to reign supreme.

SO. MUCH. TECH.

This lines up with the wealth and as I write this review, I’ve almost forgotten about all of the amazing technology these people have at their disposal. It’s just that commonplace from the very beginning. For one, there are bots everywhere you look. Robots seem to outnumber people at least ten to one, though their artificial intelligence is limited and they’re not allowed to connect mentally to one another. There are flying cars, airships, floating palaces the size of small moons. Bots have the technology to craft clothing instantaneously over your skin. One example of the overabundance of technological advancement is the Star Wars scene. Instead of watching the movie, the bots create the ships and a death star in order to reenact a battle. That’s just mind boggling if you think about it, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg of their capabilities.

THE SLEUTH FACTOR

The Million is an intricately woven sleuth story, sending an unknowing innocent into the lion’s den to discover the plot against his family. There are traitors lurking in his midst, and allies who might not be on his side. The world houses so many secrets and every few pages reveal another tense moment as he tries to save his brother from doom. The pacing was spot on, with great writing and narrative flow.

A POSSIBLE FUTURE FOR THE SERIES

The book ended on a cliffhanger and I will be VERY excited to read the next entries in the series as they come out. This is a fascinating story and there’s so much the author can do with it.

CONCEPTS

Future, Environmental, Population Control, Mystery, Robots, Technology

Interested in more books like The Million? Check out our book reviews here.

Photo by Jace Grandinetti on Unsplash

3 comments

  1. I didn’t read the whole review because everything before the spoilers warning sounded too good. I didn’t want kill it. I have to add this to my TBR. Thanks a lot! 😉

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