Daughter of Bad Times reads less like dystopian fiction and more like future history. The writing style makes it feel like a slightly dramatised reenactment of entirely plausible events.
The only kicker is that these particular events haven’t happened – yet.
In 2075 the seas have risen and swallowed up tiny island-based nations like the Maldives. Climate refugees are taken into ‘Migrant Training Centres’ run by multinational corporations more interested in making a profit than preserving the humanity of their ‘clients’.
In Rohan Wilson’s vision of Australia 55 years from now, we are hosts to one such thoroughly corrupt Migrant Training Centre.
Rin Braden is the daughter of the CEO whose company runs the Eaglehawk MTC in Tasmania. Rin has spent months mourning the death of her lover Yamaan after disaster struck the Maldives.
Then one day Yamaan washes back into her life, trapped in Eaglehawk MTC. Rin will go to incredible lengths to free him from Eaglehawk and to free herself from her mother and her own tangled past.
I was intrigued and appalled by the politics and corporate greed of Daughter of Bad Times. I was also thoroughly depressed at the realisation that this is absolutely the sort of world we could be headed towards.
I found the love affair between Yamaan and Rin a little perplexing. Yamaan is the housekeeper of Rin’s mother’s holiday house, perched over the beaches of the Maldives. Their affair is largely based on lust, though Yamaan incrementally brings philosophy and literature into Rin’s life over a period of years.
I never quite bought into the idea that Rin was so in love with Yamaan that she would risk everything for him. Then again, I’m not sure I was supposed to. I wonder if Rin was so corrupted by her mother that she was incapable of normal love. Her fixation on Yamaan feels driven by a mix of lust, obsession and guilt release, accompanied by the timeless attraction of ‘slumming it’.
Rin’s intensity of emotion is certainly not returned by Yamaan. Though it’s clear he cares for her, he seems as suspicious of her as I was. In the end, however, he must rely on Rin for his life and freedom, whether he trusts her or not.
Of course, I also realise that my inability to stop chewing over the motivations and psychology of the characters is testament to just how real this story felt.
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Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.