Reviews

THE FIRST OMEGA, by Megan O’Keefe

I received this novella from Orbit Books, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

I discovered Megan O’Keefe through the first two novels in her Protectorate space opera series, so once I saw the notice for this post-apocalyptic novella that promised a Mad Max-like setting, I had no doubt that I would sample the author’s change of narrative tone: brief as it was, it turned out to be a very intriguing read, and my hope is that Ms. O’Keefe might decide to expand this small seed into a full-length novel, one of these days.

Climate change, or some other upheaval, transformed the face of the Earth, and what once was habitable land has turned into a deserted waste, crossed only by the automatic trucks that carry goods and supplies over the old Route 66, that still connects the East and West coast of the United States. Pirates, or desperate people (it would be hard to set the difference in this time and place) constantly try to steal from these trucks, so the corporation running them, Pac At, set up a sort of policing system through bounty hunters: Riley is one of them, her territory in the arid west, toward the end of the line.

Riley is not her name, she has forgotten it and uses it only because the cranky Ma Rickets calls her thus, for no reason she can understand. To everyone else, especially the desperate people trying to eke out a meagre living in the desert, she is Burner, because that’s what her touch does to you if – or rather when – she catches you.  On her latest assignment, however, Riley is surprised to find the attackers already dead, their bodies decomposing although a very short time elapsed since the assault, and in the truck only one living person: a young girl with too-bright eyes that look uncannily like Riley’s own eyes. Her name is Omega…

Given the shortness of this novella I would not feel comfortable sharing any more details, for fear of revealing too much. What I can offer is that this is a story focused on identity and growth, of conditioning that goes beyond its intended programming and the meaning of justice when lawlessness is the only rule in no-man’s land.  The few (too few…) pages of this story manage to flesh out Riley’s character in a very interesting way, and to reach moments of poignancy I would not have expected from such a harsh, unforgiving setting and merciless environment.

The narrative style is quite different from what I was used to in O’Keefe’s Protectorate series: like the desert where it’s set, it’s a bleak, stark prose that paints Riley with a sharp and cutting economy of words that leave no room for kindness and yet highlight a character of surprising depth and humanity, one that simply begs to be explored with more detail and more backstory.  Hopefully one of these days the author will come back to this world and give us more…

My Rating:

18 thoughts on “THE FIRST OMEGA, by Megan O’Keefe

  1. I’m so glad you reviewed this. I have a copy too but I completely forgot about it! Your review has me intrigued, and I’d love to make time for it soon😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems to oack a lot of topics even for a novella! And it’s frightening to think that given our current situation that could be our future!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy to see you enjoyed this one – probably a bit too short for my taste but I still haven’t read this author so methinks I should go take a look at her other series.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A fabulous review, Maddalena! I’m glad you enjoyed this one so much. I’ve read the first two book in the Protectorate series, but although I enjoyed the first one – I wasn’t so keen on the second book, so decided to give the third one a miss. I’m very keen to see how you get on with it, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems like the author did an amazing job with this short story! It is not always easy to do good with character characterization and a completely new world in a short number of pages but in there all seems intriguing! I have yet to read this author, but I hope to do it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a bit different from O’Keefe’s Protectorate series, so I’m not sure whether to advise you to start with this sample or to take the bigger plunge with the series: in any case, you can expect some amazing storytelling 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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