Publisher: Angry Robot
Released: August 2021
Life goes on for the billions left behind after the humanity-saving colony mission to Proxima Centauri leaves Earth orbit … but what’s the point?
From the publisher:
Julie Riley is two years too young to get out from under her mother’s thumb, and what does it matter? She’s over-educated, under-employed, and kept mostly numb by her pharma emplant. Her best friend, who she’s mostly been interacting with via virtual reality for the past decade, is part of the colony mission to Proxima Centauri. Plus, the world is coming to an end. So, there’s that.
When Julie’s mother decides it’s time to let go of the family home in a failing suburb and move to the city to be closer to work and her new beau, Julie decides to take matters into her own hands. She runs, illegally, hoping to find and hide with the Volksgeist, a loose-knit culture of tramps, hoboes, senior citizens, artists, and never-do-wells who have elected to ride out the end of the world in their campers and converted vans, constantly on the move over the back roads of America.
My favorite publisher, Angry Robot, has put out another extraordinary book. This is by far one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve ever given. Twenty-Five to Life grabbed me from the first page and I had to make a conscious effort to not stay up all night reading it. Otherwise, I would have finished the book in one go and it was so damn good I wanted to savor it a bit.
Twenty-Five to Life is like Ready Player One meets On the Road. At times it felt a little Grapes of Wrath-ey, too. Except to compare this book with any others really doesn’t do it justice- it’s a powerful and unique story completely unto itself. The characters are ones I would want to be friends with and the worldbuilding was top-notch.
The core of this tale was definitely its well-rounded and dynamic characters, but what really took my breath away was the near-future setting. It was just… so frighteningly realistic. It’s set about 70 years in the future, past the point of no return for the environment. It didn’t matter how many protesters in Greta Thunberg braids there were, humans kept barreling right on into self-destruction. Generation ships have now abandoned the dying Earth in the vague hope of settling somewhere new and the 10 billion people left behind have to find a way to survive in a world that’s gone to hell.
It’s a surprisingly recognizable world, despite the fact a large chunk of it is missing and some parts belong to different countries. Covid is still a thing, although we’re on the Covid-90 strain at this point and introductions often start with “Are you vaxxed?” Half of the US has been sold to China to pay off American debts and to give displaced Chinese somewhere to live. Water is scarce, meat is a thing of the past, and there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Oh, and Texas has gone full right-wing extremist and seceded, with their Proud Boys still being Proud Boys.
To cope and survive, most Americans spend their lives in a room the size of a one car garage, wasting away hooked up to a virtual world. While part of me would want to take that blue pill, our main character Julie rages against the machine and dry swallows a handful of red pills. Even though she is underage and has no idea how to survive on her own, she decides to run away and become a part of a growing number of Americans who roam the US “tramping” till the end of the world.
Along the way she learns she is much more than she thought she was and meets an incredible cast of characters. Her eventual mentor and partner, Ranger, is luckily someone she teams up with early. Ranger navigates her through a world that has people and dangers of every kind, but you soon learn that together these women can handle just about anything. If I had to face the end of the world with anyone, it would be these two.
Honestly, there’s nothing I can say that can truly tell you how absolutely amazing Twenty-Five to Life is. It’s by far one of the best books I’ve read this year/century and I’m eternally grateful to the author and Angry Robot for giving me a chance to read it.
GO FREAKING BUY IT. You won’t regret it.
Given how the last couple of years have gone, I was a little dubious about reading a post-apocalyptic book in a (somewhat) post-covid world, but if this is how they’re going to be written, the genre is still going to be strong. Endearing, harrowing, and realistic, Twenty-Five to Life is a stunning book that I will be screaming about from the rooftops for years to come.
1 thought on “Blog Tour: Twenty-Five to Life by R.W.W. Greene”
Thanks so much for taking the time to read, write, and take part in the tour. I’m really happy you liked the book!