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Hayward's debut is a powerful, beautifully-written dystopian tale concerning four inhabitants of a gigantic but dying artificial habitat. Young Phister has lived his entire life on the radioactive lowest level, until he sets off in pursuit of a friend, and soon becomes lost among endless passageways. Ancient Mereziah, who's devoted his life to servicing the habitat's elevators, decides to hitch a ride on the outside of one of them, hoping to rise to the fabled top of the world before he dies. Tran so Phengh, a fisherman plying his trade on a polluted and retreating lake deep within the artificial world, leaves his dying wife and sets off on a quest to ask important questions of the Gods. Deidre, a pampered young girl who lives on the beautiful pastoral level at the top of the habitat, is wrenched away from her family by monstrous angels. Eventually, each learns some small part of the secret behind their claustrophobic artificial world and its impending collapse, though the tale ends abruptly, with no real resolution and little hope. With well-developed characters and four strong plotlines told through alternating chapters, Hayward delivers a fulfilling read.
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