I’m Starved for You (Positron #1) by Margaret Atwood

I'm Starved for You (Kindle Single)Rating:

Men fucking chickens. How…? Why…? [You can thank me for the mental image later. Or better yet, type that sucker into Google and go blind.]

You’re voluntarily imprisoned every other month in exchange for jobs, shelter and a full stomach, but you can’t wait 4 weeks for sex? And you’d choose a live chicken before another man?

I’d rather have gay sex than be guilty of bestiality. Those poor chickens.

Imagine a future world where society has broken down, people are starving and violence is a guaranteed daily activity. Along comes an experimental programme called Consilience. Sign over your free will in exchange for safety and security. Live in a prison called Positron for a month and do jobs that make the prison self-sufficient, followed by a month on the outside in a nice house with your family doing another job that makes the town self-sufficient. Each adult is paired with another so when one is in prison the other is in your shared house, and it’s forbidden for the alternates to ever meet. Everyone and everything is monitored. Ominous black cars roam the streets. Information is limited, propaganda rife. Rebellion is not tolerated.

A communist society set-up by a capitalist business. Hello, exploitation.

This is the backdrop to Stan and Charmaine’s loveless marriage. Their actions are dripping with irony. Stan wanted a pure, plain and reliable woman who wouldn’t break his heart. Charmaine just wanted to be loved, instead she feels ignored and unfulfilled. There is no spark, no fire, or lust in their marriage.

Behind bars, Stan is a simple chicken farmer who used to be blackmailed with pain and suffering by other prisoners for “time” with his chickens. Those same rebel prisoners found themselves in Charmaine’s care. Officially she’s the Chief Medications Administrator – that’s code for executioner. Lethal injection. The bodies most likely ground up into feed.

Upon an unintentional meeting with her husband’s alternate, a torrid affair ensues. The good girl goes bad. She feels alive at last but is afraid Stan will find out so they use pseudonyms: Max and Jasmine. “Jasmine” leaves “Max” a love note which Stan finds. He then falls in love with his idea of Jasmine, believing them to be his and Charmaine’s alternates. He attempts to stalk Jasmine so he can seduce her. And that’s when things go wrong in a very unpredictable way.

I’m a Margaret Atwood fan. The Handmaid’s Tale frightened me with its possibilities and Alias Grace‘s open verdict on the protagonist’s innocence challenged my ability to judge a person’s character from their actions. I’m Starved for You is definitely another troubling possible future with brilliantly illustrated and intricately constructed immersive world-building, and I enjoyed viewing Stan and Charmaine’s relationship and their respective prison jobs through their eyes, but I don’t feel compelled to read on to the next installment. I’m satisfied with the ending without knowing more. Details are revealed slowly, unfolding as we experience the three-dimensional main characters’ daily lives. What suffers is the pace, and at times, my attention. But this is understandable and is better than an info-dump. I doubt the sequel will suffer from the same.

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