While I’ve now read the entire trilogy, in order to avoid spoilers I’ll be reviewing the first book in the series.
I picked up the first book of the Defragmenting Daniel Trilogy by Jason Werbeloff last Saturday as part of a free promotion the author was running and finished the same day. I then went and grabbed book 2 and finished it on Sunday and moved straight onto book 3. My day job then got in the way and it took me until Tuesday to finish the series. Mister Werbeloff had me hooked from the beginning of the story and I had to keep reading.
So what’s it all about. As always, we’ll check out the blurb first.
Organ scrubbing was a bloody job, but somebody had to do it. Daniel, an orphan from the Gutter, was put to work scrubbing kidneys at aged twelve. The job had its perks: a warm bed, Law and Order reruns, and an all-you-can-eat Mopane worm buffet … Until the Orphanage stole Daniel’s parts, and sold them on the organ market.
Now Daniel has grown up, and yearns to become whole again. The cybernetic organ replacements just aren’t the same – he needs his parts back. But the new owners of his organs won’t give them up. Not without a fight.
Just how far will Daniel go to regain his missing pieces? And how much more of himself will he lose along the way?
Defragmenting Daniel is a cyberpunk crime thriller that will unnerve you. Every part of you.
Mister Werbeloff describes the book as “a gruesome sci-fi thriller” but it crosses so many different genres you could easily add cyberpunk / biopunk / dystopian / medical / technothriller fused with a hard-boiled detective story. In the world of the future as imagined in this story, society is divided (as happens too often) into the haves and the have nots. The “haves” in this case are “the Bubblers”, those who live their lives in the safety and decadence of the bubble. The “have nots” are “the Gutters”, the people living hard lives outside.
The story begins and we meet Daniel, an organ scrubber working off his food and shelter debt to the orphanage by “scrubbing” harvested organs to get them ready for transplant into the Bubblers. Because of the crippling debt imposed on him by the orphanage, he occasionally needs to “donate” his organs to pay off the debt. They’re replaced with cheap imitations that don’t function nearly as well.
When he turns 18 he’s eligible to find out who his parents are. What he finds is the catalyst for him leaving the orphanage and ultimately deciding he wants his organs back in order to become whole again. He finds work in the gutter as an assistant to a black market organ dealer where a turn of events forces him into helping a Bubbler return to the bubble. Daniel seizes the opportunity and begins his quest to get his organs back.
But when people start showing up dead, the police along with a private investigator named Kage get involved in the manhunt. Kage is the best there is, a fact which grates on the police detectives. Kage used to be Kassandra but prior to the events in the novel underwent gender reassignment to become a man. It didn’t go quite as he wanted though and is having difficulty being accepted, especially by the police he’s out shining.
The future Mister Werbeloff paints is both equal parts exciting and disturbing. The gore bars of the Bubble are particularly disgusting. The phase shifting of reality is an interesting topic to think on, in particular when you discover the gutter people who live alongside and clean up the excesses of the Bubblers.
I said at the beginning I’ll only review the first one to avoid spoilers, but I heartily recommend the entire series.
Thoroughly recommended though maybe a word of caution to the squeamish.