Analysis, Reading, Reviews

Review: Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

TLDR: The characters, politics and ideas work great. The pacing and dialogue, not so much.

Walkaway, the latest book from Cory Doctorow, and the only book of his I’ve read is about a group of friends who join a movement opting out of the capitalist dystopia in which they live.

Walkaway has an atypical rhythm. I didn’t ever really know the primary conflict, other than “capitalism sucks” and I often didn’t know where the book was going, but Doctorow writes warm, enjoyable characters and places them in an interesting world. He’s got a lot of ideas and a lot of things to say and he doesn’t let anything get in the way of expressing (and critiquing) those ideas.

Doctorow seems to be genuinely grappling with the issues raised in his book. I base this on the fact that he uses characters as mouthpieces to argue both sides and never paints anyone as an unequivocal villain. He even goes out of his way to show softer sides of some of the more villainous individuals.

That being said, his characters have a tendency to monologue at each other in an unnatural manner. Also, I had trouble staying motivated around the end of the second act – beginning of the third act. Some plot threads did not get resolved to my satisfaction. I think this was intended and it does add some realism, but I found it a bit annoying.

The specter of the super-rich hangs over the entire story and Doctorow convincingly paints them as this at-times-allied, other-times-cutthroat, self-interested cabal that can swoop out of the sky at any minute and pluck a person or a village out of existence like a hawk grabbing a rabbit. This was more than a little anxiety inducing as it’s impossible not to draw parallels to our current world of billionaires buying their way into elections, getting away with treason, and “vanishing” individuals with dirt on their sexual habits.

Overall, I enjoyed living in this near-future world and grappling with the ideas alongside the characters. I would certainly pick up another book by this author.


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