Publish date- September, 2015.
Publisher- Hot Key Books.
RRP- $16.95 (AUD)
(A Brief) Synopsis:
A UK in which every day almost everyone pops a pill. These tablets are taking over anti-depressants and are sending the whole country, and other countries that use it, into a world of happiness. But surely to every cloud there is a dark side, and Cloud 9 is that.
Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!
Image source: Five Mile Press.
What I thought:
Cloud 9 was an idea that could have worked really, really well. Basically, the large majority of the UK takes a pill. It gets rid of bad emotions. No unhappiness. No suicide. Only thing is, it has a secret. The government, they have the biggest secret of all. Dun. Dun. Dunnnnn.
You've got conspiracy, thriller, chase scenes. And a pretty neat cover (particularly colour-wise), too.
Only problem? It didn't work for me. I found it annoying, frustrating and tiring. The characters were the picture of bubbly-hyper-happiness and stony-questioning-rebellion, and besides those words there wasn't really much besides. Hope was over the top in every possibly way, believing with all her heart that Leata meant happiness and everyone ho didn't take it was asking for their troubles. She was a vlogger, too, and her monolouges were full of how she had to present a face, subscriber count, I owe it to my followers and the self-aware, disingenuine feeling character like that.
Tom, on the other hand, was the opposite. Sullen, fairly well addicted to whisky after the death of his father- although this addiction made me frown. He went from nil to, like, full dependancy, bottle/s a day, and only threw up once, and then went cold turky, as it were, in the space of... two weeks? I don't find such a portrait very realistic.
Tom and Hope's interactions didn't interest me a whole lot, and I found them equally frustrating, as individuals. She did a teeny bit of shaming, judged others, was "nice" to people because it was her brand, and Tom- who disliked Hope intently- told her everything he found out for no. apparent. reason. She'd be there and he'd tell her something he'd have chosen to hide from the police, even though her dad was a top Leata lawyer and she was practically a Leata spokesperson.
Writing wise, I felt like this could have been a lot more finished. The characters obviously didn't feel like people besides their structure, there were patches of weird formality, the way Hope and Tom's chapters- told in first and second person- changing frequently, one way in part one, switch in part two, muddled in three, and I couldn't tell if it was intentional.
There were also unexplained shortenings for words (or unexplained until a fair way in), a bvery strange scene of sexual assult that felt way too intentional to the relationship between other characters, and I'm never a fan of pop culture references- we had youtube galore, Star Wars, Bond films, etc. So it was set in the present day (I'd say, with a reference to an upcoming Star Wars film and the present 6 discussed) and yet it was incredibly different. That made for an interesting element, but it didn't get clarified or built upon enough for me to be able to truly appreciate it.
This definitely wasn't great going for me, although it got a little better for the end. The characters were annoying and the plot frustrated me, and I just didn't care.