KID - A History of The Future by Sebastian de Souza #BookReview #BlogTour

London. The year 2078. Like all other major cities, London is a silent wasteland, abandoned and crumbling, populated only by the renegade 'Offliner' movement, the lawless 'Seekers' and other minorities that rejected The Upload in 2060. As a result, these rebels live off the grid and in abject poverty, taking shelter in makeshift shantytowns and hideouts. The Offliners have made the disused Piccadilly Circus Tube station their home: a fully self-sufficient, subterranean community of about 500 people, known as the 'Cell'.

In 2060, following a series of deadly pandemics, devastating environmental disasters and a violent surge in cyber terrorism, the UN made it compulsory for every tax paying citizen in all of its 193 united nations to login to the Perspecta Universe: a virtual reality universe provided by the tech giant Gnosys Inc. So began a period of history known as The Upload. Totally safe, pollution free, environmentally friendly: what was an alternative reality at first has become the only reality. Now, in 2078, billions of people all around the world exist in dedicated Hab-Belts - massive dormitory complexes surrounding the major cities - unconscious of the world around them: living, working, loving, learning, inside the Perspecta Universe. 

KID - A History of The Future follows Josh 'Kid' Jones, a young Offliner who discovers that an antiquated piece of technology called an 'iPhone', left to him by his father, seemingly allows him to communicate with the past through social media. He strikes up a friendship with Isabel Parry, a 16 year old in 2021, and the two begin communicating through time and space via Instagram. In doing so they are not only changing their own fate, but also the fate of the rest of the world.

I'm thrilled to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour for KID - A History of The Future today. Many thanks to Sebastian de Souza, Offliner Press and Ashley Baugh from Midas PR for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the novel.

As I began reading KID, I wondered what it is that draws readers to dystopian fiction. I used to believe it may be because there was something rather comforting in reading about an imagined worst-case scenario but events in the last few years have made dystopian books feel uncomfortably prescient. KID is set later this century but although  advances in technology mean most people now live virtual lives, it all seems only too plausible.
The KID of the title is Josh 'Kid' Jones who, having spent the bulk of his childhood as an Offliner is now becoming an adult, at a time when the lives of these dissident groups are becoming more precarious than ever. Kid's father disappeared when he was very young and his mother died when he was just eight years old so his family are the other members of the Offliner community he lives with in the subterranean Cell, built in what used to be the Piccadilly Circus tube station. One of the things I most loved about KID is while it is set in a future where the majority of the population live in Hab-Belts - vast purpose-built buildings which allow them to plug into the Perspecta Universe and exist almost solely in a virtual reality - the London of the Offliners still feels vividly recognisable. This melding of past and present (or present and future) even extends to the music Kid and his friends, twins Eliza and Pascal listen to on their Walkman CD players. In order to breathe in the toxic environment, they must inhale Roxi pellets which allow them to scavenge for supplies in the ghetto of what was Soho. Here, they pick up CDs from the former Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road and listen to the likes of The Beatles, Oasis and Stormzy, and bicker about whether Coldplay or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were more musically significant. They describe the period we currently live in as the Golden Dusk which is almost unbearably poignant given what the future holds for the human race.
When Kid charges an old iPhone which once belonged to his father, he discovers he is able to communicate with Isabel Parry, a sixteen-year-old girl living in 2021 and in doing so we learn that this current pandemic is just the first in a series of deadly viruses which progressively worsen as the air becomes increasingly polluted. It's a depressing scenario but although KID is a chilling warning of what could happen, there is still some humour to be found here, particularly in the exchanges between Kid and Izzy, who at first can't believe she is communicating with somebody living in 2078, resulting in a frustrated Kid desperately trying to convince her that he isn't making the whole thing up. While most of the book is about him, there are some sections featuring their Instagram conversations, and chapters set in 2021 which allow us to know more about Izzy, who really doesn't realise how brilliant and significant she is. She lays out her thoughts in a diary, which she acknowledges is old-fashioned but as she explains, she is tired of just being a Body and wants to be a Somebody who writes a story her future self can devour on the train. She is refreshingly normal; she loves celebrity gossip and writes about her evenings sharing Deliveroo takeaways she shares with her boyfriend, Stephen and yet she is also a fiercely intelligent science nerd who is able to put forward some theories how this incredible time-travelling exchange of messages might be possible.
Sebastian de Souza's debut is richly imagined world-building at its most immersive; I loved the juxtaposition of futuristic technologies - from the flying Podd vehicles to the holo-pop advertising holograms - and the Heath Robinson style contraptions used by the inventive Offliners. As the novel progresses, Kid makes discoveries which change everything he knows and the authorities, led by the sinister Hamilton Rogers, become more powerful and dangerous than ever. The virtual and real words become increasingly blurred but despite being a complex story, it is thoroughly engaging from start to finish.
The combination of events which led to the world's population willingly succumbing to having their daily existence controlled by Gnosys, the planet's most powerful company feels like a warning to us all. Climate change, cyber-terrorism and worldwide pandemics allow Governments to shape communities at their will, driving people into the sterile environment of the Hap-Belts while leaving the dregs of society to eke out a meagre, perilous existence below ground or in the disused buildings of a once vibrant city. It's a sombre premise but the resourcefulness and courageousness of Kid, Eliza, Pas and the other Offliners gives cause to hope too. Going back to the beginning of this review, I think this is what makes dystopian fiction so irresistible. By celebrating the enduring resilience and morality of those who are worse treated by an authoritarian regime, it allows us to believe that perhaps humankind will eventually prevail.
A happy ending isn't yet in sight for Kid but this exciting, beautifully constructed introduction to the trilogy is a superb opener. Packed with twists and turns, dramatic revelations and some deeply emotional scenes, KID - A History of the Future is an outstanding, intricately plotted debut which would translate perfectly to the big or small screen. I highly recommend it.

KID - A History of the Future will be published by Offliner Press on Thursday 18th March 2021 and can be pre-ordered from  many retailers including, Hive, FoylesWaterstones and Amazon. Please support independent bookstores whenever possible; West End Lane Books is running a special pre-order promotion, where readers can get a SIGNED & DEDICATED copy of Kid if purchased through their website.
Ahead of publication, chapters from KID: A History of the Future will be released weekly on the Offliner Universe to read for free, alongside a weekly podcast of the serialised story read by Sebastian and Sadie Soverall (The Winx Saga, Netflix). An original pod-opera and ‘Stillspeare’ collector’s edition are set to follow later in 2021.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Sebastian de Souza is an actor, producer, screenwriter and musician. Sebastian can currently be seen on Channel 4, playing the leading role of Leo in the Hulu Original series The Great, opposite Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, written by Oscar-nominated and BAFTA award-winning writer Tony MacNamara (The Favourite). Previous roles include Gareth in the BBC/Hulu adaptation of Sally
Rooney’s best-selling novel Normal People directed by Oscar-nominated Lenny Abrahamson (Room); in Netflix’s Medici, playing the iconic painter Sandro Botticelli; Alfonso d’Aragona in Showtime’s Emmy award-winning The Borgias, opposite Jeremy Irons and Holliday Grainger; and in the multiple BAFTA award-winning Skins, as lead Matty Levan. Sebastian has also played the lead role of Rafa in Paramount Pictures’ Brit-Crime thriller Plastic, opposite Will Poulter and Alfie Allen, and can currently be seen on Netflix playing Edmund in Ophelia opposite Naomi Watts, Daisy Ridley and Clive Owen.
As a writer, at the age of 20 Sebastian wrote the feature film Kids In Love, which he also starred in opposite Will Poulter and Cara Delevingne. The film was produced by Ealing Studios, the oldest and most prestigious studio in the UK. He wrote and directed the short ‘Evelyne’s World’, starring Evelyne Brochu at Korda Studios in Budapest. His debut YA novel KID: A History of the Future is published by Offliner Press in Spring 2021.

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