Like Joe Canzano’s last book, SUZY SPITFIRE AND THE SNAKE EYES OF VENUS, RUNE AND FLASH revolves around a highly motivated female character with homicidal tendencies. Part teenage dystopian romp, part social commentary, a cross between J.G. Ballard and THE HUNGER GAMES, the author creates a convincing world with just the right amount of characters, in which different groups and organizations clash within a frightening technological scenario.

The interactions of a group of teenagers who are learning to write dreams together provides a bit of fun against the backdrop of psychological manipulation by the controllers of the Dream Station. Older youths lead the rebellion and have questionable motives. Adults have their own agendas. Nearly everyone has a futuristic name.

The story is fast-moving and the violence is more than slapstick, but death isn’t dwelt upon. In this genre, you wouldn’t expect character sketches to be too detailed, but it’s still possible to get a sense of the personalities and their physicality. Mannerisms and gestures are put across vivdly and succinctly.

The GoBug, a bluetooth-like device which most of the characters carry attached to their ear, could be seen as analogous to the mobile phone and, by extension, the media. This is where information is received and it’s also a way for the authorities to track citizens. The validity of the information and the agendas it contains are called into question. Another subject up for debate is the morality of 20 Eyes, the underground resistance group.

Well-presented, humorous and readable, RUNE AND FLASH is an entertaining statement about uses of technology, propaganda and distraction, with several skilfully described romantic subplots.

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