Bindiya Schaefer’s debut book was a surprising gem, delivering a uniquely captivating story packed with drama in a dystopian future. Underlying is an indictment on how we racially see and treat others in our World today. Corinth 2642 AD is a wonderful mix of a dystopian thriller, with contemporary social messages and a plot full of mystery, suspense and danger.
The decades and centuries leading to 2642 AD have witnessed a devasting war that claimed millions of lives, a climate crisis that ravaged the globe, technology advances, globalisation, and the merger of ethnicity, to a generation known as One World. Several colonies decided that pure white communities would not mix, and over the ages, they remained hidden from One World engagement.
Jimmy Matoo is a private investigator in San Francisco and is approached by Julius Bull-Smith, the leader of the seven white US colonies, to find his missing granddaughter Cara. Initially, Jimmy rejects the offer but is informed that his brother was killed outside the Corinth colony in Oregon the same night Cara disappeared. Two mysteries are now at play both entwined in this pacy investigation that will tear into the prejudices and controls of the white supremacy cult. The population issues, breeding limitations, and growing infertility of the colonies are of major concern to the leaders. Their response is to control marriages and pregnancies—a strong motivation for a young girl to skip town. The people of the colonies are sitting on a powderkeg of their own, as some zealous forces want tighter controls, some realising this life is oppressive, and others wondering why they’ve locked themselves away in this cult. Misinformation about the outside is rife but often the truth is there if you can open your eyes.
One noteworthy takeaway from this book is that with so many major societal issues at play, and a double mystery to solve, maintaining a balance of the multiple threads and keeping nail-biting suspense would be complicated. All aspects work brilliantly to build a believable dystopian world, and never once did it feel disjointed or overwhelming.
When Matoo gets inside Corinth and stays with Bull’s family, the subtleties and not so subtle forms of racism are wonderfully painted. Except for Matoo, the characters are generally unlikeable, but are well-drawn and convey the colony’s prejudices and atmosphere. The spectrum of mistrust, cynicism, and repulsion within the Bull family towards Matoo reflect our World today and are essential to driving the story’s peril and suspense. Even though they know Matoo is helping them, the years of white racist prejudices cannot bring themselves to treat Matoo as an equal. It reminded me of the fable of the Frog and the Scorpion.
I recommend Corinth 2642 AD to any readers who enjoy science fiction, thrillers, investigative mysteries, dystopian settings, contemporary issues, and action-packed adventures. I want to thank Bindiya Schaefer, GenZ Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ARC in return for an honest review.