By Sue Burke
Being timely can be both a good and a bad thing. Immunity Index, which is about a pandemic, and social breakdown more generally, is the sort of book that will hit close to home now. But a U.S. president who is a right-wing carnival-barker may already feel like yesterday’s news.
Sue Burke’s latest is set in a near-future America that is basically a police state divided between the have-a-lots and the have-nothings. There is, however, a resistance movement that is about to erupt, while at the same time a pandemic is breaking out. Three young women who are “dupes” (or clones) get swept up in the action, and the story is told from their points of view, as well as that of the scientist who created them. Plus there is an adorable woolly mammoth named Irene.
It’s ground that’s been gone over a lot lately, but Burke is a fine writer with strong narrative chops and the early pandemic chapters in particular effectively capture the feelings of confusion and fear we’ve been living with for the past year.