Half murder mystery and half dystopian coming of age story, Vaughn manages to write a compelling who-dun-it while sketching out an entire post-apocalyptic world. At the center of Bannerless is The Coast Road communities, a bucolic seeming utopia built after ‘The Fall’ of the modern world. This is a society where everyone works for their place and views themselves as caretakers of resources for the next generations. It isn’t until protagonist Enid’s story begins to unfold, both in the present and her wanderer past, that the unsettling foundations of this new society begin to poke through.
Enid of the present is a brown tunic’d investigator sent into a text book perfect town to investigate a possible murder. Despite claims that no one liked the deceased or talked to him, it’s obvious the town is nervous about something and it just might shatter their future.
Enid of the past is a directionless young woman who seizes on an invitation to travel from a young troubadour she’s fallen for. As they travel the coast road, it becomes clear that this utopian life isn’t everything it seems to be.
Through alternating chapters, Vaughn uses Enid’s past to inform her present, and helps to deepen the reader’s understanding of the their world along the way without heaps of exposition. Bannerless is a great pick for a summer afternoon read – compelling, interesting, and surprisingly bright despite it’s themes.
Disclosure: This review is based on an ebook version provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through Netgalley.
RATING: ★★★★☆ 4 STARS
Bannerless by Carries Vaughn
Published: July 11, 2017 by John Joseph Adams
Ebook, 272 pages