Sour Fruit by Eli Allison #BookReview

Onion is kidnapped, which is just the cherry on top of an already grim life. she wakes up chained to Kingston an armpit of a river city.
Forced into a knife fight with a world that is just pulled a machine gun on her, all Onion has to scrap with is a sewer for a mouth,  a rusted up moral compass and a spanking anger that can sucker-punch kindness at twenty paces.
Earmarked for a skin-trader called The Toymaker she has just three days to escape before the sold sticker becomes a permanent brand.

She might survive.


 Part one of the Inc trilogy

It's my pleasure to be sharing my review of Sour Fruit today. Huge thanks to Eli Allison for contacting me and for sending a copy of her book.

Onion is a teenage girl who has spent her life being moved from care home to care home. It's not much of a life but at least she understands it - until she is kidnapped and taken to Kingston, where the population given VOID status are forced to live. This is a Britain in which those people deemed not worthy of their Identity Nano Certificate - immigrants, criminals, anybody who fails the Citizen Suitability Test - becomes a VOID. Children are raised to fear and hate the VOIDs; they're scroungers and dangerous criminals and keeping them in VOID-hubs is safer for everyone.
Her prejudices seem to be confirmed at first when she is dragged before the deranged boss of Kingston, Milton Mooluke and learns she has been sold to The Toymaker. A delay means she can't be delivered for three days and in the meantime is handed over to the terrified Rhea and discovers that any attempt to escape will result in instant death. It seems hopeless and Kingston really is the stuff of nightmares - confusing, unpredictable and violent.
Despite the Squids - the VOID name for people with INC - warnings about VOIDS, Onion begins to slowly realise they perhaps aren't all losers and no-hopers, solely responsible for their predicament. She needs to learn to trust but this isn't easy for her and one of the most striking things about Sour Fruit is how for much of it, Onion should be a really difficult character to like. She responds to kindness with rude retorts and actively tries to find ways to spark reactions in people, using her words like weapons. However, it doesn't take too long to realise that her obstreperousness is her way of protecting herself - better to be alone than let down. For all her foul-mouthed insults, she is quick-witted and resourceful with a dark sense of humour and is astutely observant.
Sour Fruit is one of those books in which at first, very little makes much sense. This cleverly reflects Onion's own experiences as she is cast from a life she understood, even if she wasn't loved, cared for or particularly happy, into a strange world where the little she thinks she knows is frequently proved wrong. As she and Rhea move through the city, interacting with the Greenies and the Skimmers, trying to avoid the Bone Men and the Shanty Rats, how this odd place works becomes clearer - although as the first part of a trilogy, I'm sure there is still much to discover. The story is actually told from Onion's perspective as she talks to a mysterious doctor and I'm especially intrigued to learn more about what eventually leads her to this point.
Onion's vivid descriptions of both the strange landscape and the people who inhabit it are a joy throughout and create a real sense of place to a city and population which may be fictional but were easy to picture. As an urban dystopia, the residents of Kingston have utilised what remains of the previous infrastructure to build their homes, creating a fragile semblance of order from their chaos.
While the reader is never left in any doubt of just how brutal this world is - the threat of violence is never far away and when it comes, is delivered with chilling depravity, Sour Fruit is not a depressing read. It has a twisted sense of humour and is a sharp warning about where divisions in society could eventually lead and is an exciting race against time and unhinged enemies. However, it is also a thoughtful and poignant exploration of family, home, belonging and perhaps most touchingly, of redemption. I was gradually drawn into this weird world and while I'm glad I can escape, I fully intend to find my way back there for book two. Sour Fruit is dark, strange and insightful speculative fiction with memorable, flawed characters who are often gleefully offensive yet still often somehow more sympathetic than I first expected. Highly recommended!

Sour Fruit is published by Unbound and can be purchased from the following;
 Amazon UK
Amazon US

About the Author

Eli Allison tells people at parties that she's a writer, but she mostly spends the day in her knickers swearing at the laptop. She has never written anything of any fame except for a jarringly bad poem which was read out loud at her secondary school assembly (the highlight of everyone else’s school year, predictably not her own). She gave up poetry and switched to the hard stuff soon after. Writing stories about crushed dreams and balding men looking for love that you could buy by the hour. Those were her happier ones. She ping-ponged between one depressing job after another until her husband said, ‘take a year and write your book’. Years later the book is done…There is a sneaking suspicion he would have kept quiet had he known quite how long it would have taken her.
She lives in Yorkshire, works in her head and does not enjoy long walks on the beach or anywhere, in fact she gets upset at having to walk to the fridge for cheese. She suffers badly from cheese sweats but endures.
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