Brian Malbon's Reviews > Face/Mask

Face/Mask by Gabriel Boutros
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's review
Jan 17, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: distopia

In Face/Mask, Gabriel Boutros has created a believable futuristic  world that feels as real and lived-in as any of the best of dystopian fiction. I'm a sucker for excellent world-building, and it's a delight to discover an author who takes an interest in filling in the little details that make the world come alive.
The perfectly conceived world in question is Montreal in the year 2039, where Beijing-like levels of pollution have left the air unbreathable to the point that air masks are required in order to go outside, Canada has been quietly and effectively annexed by the United States, the War on Terror is still in full swing after more than three decades and Muslims have been rounded up and interned in camps. It's a bleak picture, and a wholly believable one (I had one terrific chuckle when, in the middle of a standard jack boots - and - black - helicopters midnight raid to arrest an innocent man, a member of the military police takes a moment to apologize to the man's family. Of course, the Canadian Gestapo would be polite as hell), and the most eerily prophetic part of this terrible future is that NOBODY CARES about any of it. The worse things get in the world of Face/Mask, the more the attitude of "eh, but whattaya gonna do?" seems to prevail. And that is true of our own time as well.
Filling out the world are a kaleidoscope of interesting characters - Sahar, the beautiful Muslim prostitute/underground freedom fighter, Uncle Joe, a kindly old man whose efforts to make life better for all those around him put him unwittingly on the wrong side of the law, a corrupt cop, a slimy Muslim double agent and  pair of even slimier white enviroterrorists. There's also a missing microchip of Top Secret Information that the government is desperate to retrieve.
It all revolves around Allen Janus, the one common thread in all of these stories, a mid level government employee, husband, father of three and the most dispicable human being any of these unfortunate souls are ever likely to meet. So inured against the realities of the world around him that he literally does not realize he lives in a police state, Janus' only contributions to the plot consist of committing the most amazingly misguided acts of passive/aggressive douchebaggery, and then recoiling in horror when these terrible things he does have wider - reaching consequences than he had intended. I won't give away anything more, except to say that it's a very unpleasant head to spend time inside, and while that's entirely the point, I would have preferred less of him and more of Sahar and Uncle Joe.
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Reading Progress

January 17, 2015 – Shelved
January 17, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 31, 2015 – Started Reading
February 23, 2015 – Shelved as: distopia
February 23, 2015 – Finished Reading

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