Afterparty by Daryl Gregory. ★★★★
Afterparty is an addicting techno-thriller that explores some complex ideas while still being a lot of fun to read.
In Afterparty‘s future, drugs can easily be created through chemical printers. Ten years ago, Lydia Rose was one of five people who created a drug called Numinous. Meant to cure schizophrenia, Numinous instead produced the perception of a divine presence. At a disastrous party, the creators all overdosed on the drug, leaving the survivors with permanent hallucinations of their own guardian angel. However, Lydia’s wife did not survive the party – she was found stabbed to death once the other four came out of the drug.
Flash forward to the current day, where Lydia’s in a mental hospital and a girl recently brought in commits suicide. Lydia recognizes her symptoms – someone out there is producing Numinous, and Lydia’s determined to find out who.
“Look, you can’t think of a person like it’s one thing, one ‘I’ that decides everything. The brain is a collective, a huge number of all these thinking modules. It doesn’t make a decision, it arrives at one.”
Lydia’s a wonderfully complicated person. She’s angry and bitter and unwilling to trust anyone, least of all herself. She’s a determined atheist who yet deep down believes that the angel inside her head is real. Whether or not the angel does exist solely outside of her head, Lydia doesn’t know how to live without her.
The plot speeds along, full of twists and turns. Little bits of Lydia and others pasts are revealed to show more and more of what really happened on that fateful night of the overdose.
There’s so much to love about Afterparty. A strong plot, intriguing characters, a diverse cast, interesting philosophical questions… this book would appeal to a wide range of people. I’d check it out particularly if you’re looking for something in a similar vein to Michael Crichton techno-thrillers or for a lesbian protagonist.