This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write. Mainly because this is one of the best books I’ve ever read and believe it or believe it not; good books are harder to review than bad ones.
Why is that you might ask? Well it’s the same mental process as the way we complain about bad service in a restaurant but don’t often compliment. How we might review a clothing company badly because the top we bought had a hole in it but don’t really take the time to say ‘hey, good job that top had no holes and the colour really suited me’. There are of course exceptions but this is just an example of.
So anyway back to the book. It’s the first time I’ve come across this author but I was immediately intrigued by the subject matter. A world modern like present day but where slavery still exists. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting and I was right in my trepidation as Underground Airlines took me on a very bumpy ride and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen from one moment to the next. Although I think that’s what makes the book so fantastic.
So the plot, it’s not exactly what you think. Yes slavery still exists but only in the South, the North is full of free states but the racism is up a couple of notches on the racism today. There are also ‘free’ black people as well who were not born into slavery or who escaped and managed to form a new identity; just like our protagonist Jim or is it Victor or is it something else?
Jim/Victor/Something else works for the federal marshals by tracking black people who have escaped from slavery and return them to their ‘masters.’ Funny job for an ex slave huh?
I won’t spoil the story as my regular readers know I don’t like spoilers. However what I will say is that this novel is everything it promises. It delivers everything it says it will and more. It answers all the questions you might have and wraps everything up in a neat little bow while still leaving the ending open to interpretation which I think for an author is an incredible skill. I have already recommended this book to several members of my family and friends because it is actually THAT good.
The plot stays focus on the protagonist but opens up other smaller stories which run alongside it and keep the readers interest. It is a contemporary novel of one of the finest styles I have ever read. I would definitely be keen to read more from this author if his other novels are even a fraction of the quality of this one.