Tronick by Rosie Record is told through the eyes of a hurricane of a woman whose job is to deviously maintain order. Fiona is tethered together by old scars of a wounded childhood and the need to feel in control. An accident damages her connection to the system the government uses to control the masses, creating a divide between her and the rest of the population. The story pulls no punches with its rage, gore, and often visceral sexual violence. This is a dystopian story that’s been told before about a “damaged” woman who is just not like all the other girls. She’s a woman that almost every single male character feels a desperate need to save, control, help, or have sex with often all at the same time. In fact, there is little to no representation of women in this novel that isn’t a negative stereotype. Except of course, for the main character, who has all the powerful attributes of the men while still holding onto her feminine beauty and tragic fragility that makes her so special.
Eye rolling pick-me-girl narrative aside, the plot moves forward throughout the book easily with a truly captivating second half. While there are a lot of unnecessary similes, often not making sense (e.g. “she removed one earbud like a fastidious child picking out peas”), the prose is clever and shifts into a less awkward rhythm as the plot moves on. Tronick’s dystopian future is easy to see and well explained. The walls Fiona builds to protect herself mirror the Annex’s walls around this futuristic California. The author builds a world made entirely of holographs and wires and machines that go brrrrr and makes it sound somehow both gritty and beautiful. The lack of humanity in her world creates a foil for the immense humanity Tronick has inside her. She is, by definition, different than the others. Fiona spends most of this novel begging everyone around her to just tell her what is going on and is so often tossed around like a ragdoll by men in power it’s questionable whether she’s ever really making her own choices. However, I appreciated her character often being unpalatable. She felt more real when she was bursting out of her skin to fight her demons. Fiona Tronick often feels deeply and struggles to keep herself sane with the dark secrets that surround her. For her and the public, the reality is truly a construct but the question hangs heavy: by whose construction?
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