Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Crash Deluxe

by Marianne de Pierres


Parrish Plessis, sometime warlord and all-round tough grrl, seems to gravitate towards trouble. Crash Deluxe begins with a media report of her theft of a helicopter, a report that gets interrupted just as it gets interesting. Whilst previous books have focused on the poverty and degradation of the Tert slums, in this novel Parrish is taking the fight to the wealthy.

Infiltrating the world of the civilised élite doesn't come easy to a woman whose instinct is to punch first and garrotte later. Her violent nature is on overdrive thanks to the Eskaalim, a parasitic organism that feeds off strong emotions. It's a mysterious creature, probably alien, that can lend Parrish great powers but ultimately threatens to destroy her. So she is constantly at war with herself, trying to curb her anger and passion.

In Crash Deluxe Parrish goes undercover in Viva City, the wealthy half of future Australia. It's a world away from the poisoned land of the Tert with its gangsters and Canrats. But the perfumed and air-scrubbed city is in many ways just as brutal. It's a place where money can buy you anything, and can even put you above the law.

None are richer or more powerful than the media. And the media is under the control of just three ultra-rich people, each of whom owns a broadcasting network. This is a world where anyone who controls the flow of information has more power than anyone else. Only a heavily censored version of the truth is ever allowed to reach the eyes and ears of ordinary citizens.

Posing as an Amorato, a kind of high-class, high-tech prostitute, Parrish is able to see just how wide the division is between the haves and the have-nots. However, it doesn't matter how Parrish looks and what identity she adopts, it seems that wherever she goes there are people who want to kill her. The level of violence in Crash Deluxe is high. Parrish isn't the kind to hang around in any one place for a millisecond longer than she has to, so the plot moves quickly.

Some of the language used in the book is initially a bit baffling, so the mix of futuristic slang and technical jargon is somewhat impenetrable if you haven't read the earlier books in the series recently. A glossary would be useful, because otherwise it takes a few chapters just to remember what it all means and get your bearings. On the plus side, this means that very little of this book is devoted to recapping what most readers will already know. We are plunged straight into the action with no wasted words.

The title refers in part to Lavish Deluxe, a man who runs an exclusive brothel. This novel pulls no punches, going into vivid detail about the many forms of enslavement and abuse that take place under the guise of civilised society. It's a book that manages to be highly political as well as sexually charged, combining grotesque horrors with angelic beauty in one wide sweep. People are manipulated without their knowledge, made to buy anything. Whether it's sex, shoes or a point of view, the way their desires are manipulated in Crash Deluxe can be very invasive and subliminal. It could be through the media, personalised advertising or even the chemicals in the air, but no matter what the means the sinister use and abuse of power is everywhere.

Crash Deluxe is often shocking, an intense rush of sensations and emotions as Parrish tries to unravel a tangled web of deceit, conspiracy and crimes against the disempowered. This thoroughly modern heroine makes for fascinating reading.

Book Details

Year: 2005

Categories: Books

  Science fiction
    Female Protagonist  
  Not For The Squeamish  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

More about Marianne de Pierres