Poster Girl by Veronica Roth
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Summary from NetGalley:
WHAT’S RIGHT IS RIGHT.
Sonya Kantor knows this slogan—she lived by it for most of her life. For decades, everyone in the Seattle-Portland megalopolis lived under it, as well as constant surveillance in the form of the Insight, an ocular implant that tracked every word and every action, rewarding or punishing by a rigid moral code set forth by the Delegation.
Then there was a revolution. The Delegation fell. Its most valuable members were locked in the Aperture, a prison on the outskirts of the city. And everyone else, now free from the Insight’s monitoring, went on with their lives.
Sonya, former poster girl for the Delegation, has been imprisoned for ten years when an old enemy comes to her with a deal: find a missing girl who was stolen from her parents by the old regime, and earn her freedom. The path Sonya takes to find the child will lead her through an unfamiliar, crooked post-Delegation world where she finds herself digging deeper into the past—and her family’s dark secrets—than she ever wanted to.
With razor sharp prose, Poster Girl is a haunting dystopian mystery that explores the expanding role of surveillance on society—an inescapable reality that we welcome all too easily.
ARC provided by William Morrow via NetGalley for an Honest review.
From the start, I was totally sucked into this quiet and subtle story about government overreach and how surveillance through technology can certainly be abused by even the most well meaning people. The writing is fantastic and the characters are as morally gray as they can get and it will keep you thinking as you turn those pages.
Sonya is a very sympathetic character. She basically ends up in prison because of the sins of her father, as many of children in the old government did. But she was too old and too well known to be let out, like many of the other children were. She has a quiet strength that served her well under the old and the new government. She is also smart in a way that lets her figure out who can help her with what happened to Grace Ward. I really appreciated that she didn’t give up, even when things got very tough for her.
There are a lot of secondary characters that were fun and mostly well fleshed out. There were many in the prison with her that helps her with finding the answers as well as helped her to survive. I loved some of the characters she meets on the outside as well, especially Emily Knox, a computer hacker who is the one who helps Sonya the most. I also like Alexander, her love interest and also someone from her past. They were both well drawn characters and people I could relate to.
The real star of this story though is the setting/world building and the plot. It is a quiet story, and yet a lot happens in it. You get to see what the old regime, the Delegation was like through Sonya’s memories, but as she explores the outside world you get to see how the new government isn’t that much different or better than the old. There is also a lot of discussion about surveillance and how the Delegation rewarded and punished people’s behavior. There is quite a lot to think about and discuss in this one. The plot is not fast paced but it keeps you interested. The outcome is not quite what I was expecting either, and there were some good twists at the end as well.
A stunning novel that I think will get a lot of attention for its themes and well done plot. This is a stand alone and Sonya’s story is obviously done by the end of it, but I would love to see more stories set in this world. There is so much more to explore here. This is highly recommended especially if you like reading about dystopias and how technology and surveillance can be used to help but also hurt people.