A Review of: FKA USA, by Reed King

Right off the bat – I was working my brain trying to figure just what FKA meant – so I’ll spare you. It’s ‘Formerly Knows, As’. 

This book – Formerly Known As USA. Interesting, windy, full of unique plots and twists. I hate this kind of description – it’s Idiocracy, meets Blade Runner, meets [insert your favourite] plot about an epic journey to save humanity…. But… it’s so much more and so much better than that. The author wrote a truly creative and entertaining story, with a hint of ‘be careful what future you’re actively creating right now’ life lessons. But yet entertaining, am bit funny, a bit horrific, a bit melancholy, a bit teenage puppy love angst, a bit mystery solving, a bit of working to make a change for the better. And a sentient talking goat to round things out. 

So many plots…. To try and begin to unravel them here to describe.. Might be impossible. And also take the fun out of discovering this story. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s set in the future, approximately 2080. After the United States of America has broken up into many small countries – most owned by corporations. [Not a hard stretch to imagine that happening…] There is rampant hunger, fighting, technology, climate disaster, war, hunger, and a general feeling of unease- we’ve broken the planet, and are pretty much about to go extinct, along with all the animals that already have. There are sentient ‘manufactured humans’. Outlawed in some countries, welcome in others. Wars for water. Wars for technology. Foods entirely composed of chemical concoctions. A pretty grim place. Oh and most of the west coast dropped into the sea after the Big One happened. [As expected.] Florida is an island due to global warming. Arizona is uninhabitable. The mid west destroyed itself with fracking. Alaska may have sunk. Or drifted into the ocean to its own island – no one knows. The south is a deadly swamp. Russia has satellite counties in the FKA USA. There are underground tunnels under the country of Texas, and pretty much everywhere, because sometimes you still gotta go places even when it’s illegal. 

Our main character is a 16 year old ‘crumb’. He is accompanied thru most of the story by a sentient android, ‘Sammy’ and a Grifter, Tiny Tim. [Who is not Tiny.] as Truckee undertakes a cross continent journey from his home ‘Crunch, United’ [formerly Little Rock Arkansas]; to the country of ‘Friends Of The North’. [San Francisco]; because his president sent him on a mission with a sentient goat, to ‘save the world’ as they know it. Of course, it is a perilous, eventful, insane journey. And also – it is not that simple. There’s so many double crosses in there it’s dizzying. 

Think you have an idea what the book is about? Nope, me either. Not until the last page, and after you’ve read it twice, will it all be clear. 

The book has within it another book: The Grifter’s Guide to the Territories FKA USA, which Truckee reads during his journey. There’s typically a quote the this book, at the beginning of each chapter. The book also contains a zillion footnotes – written like a biography reference – giving us details [info drops] on all the future vocabulary, events, locations, historical facts etc. It’s a LOT, and can be overwhelming – but the book does need the info to make any sense at all. It makes it an… interesting style of writing. So many different things happening. The actual story. The Grifter book. The footnotes. And a million subplots. 

Definitely an entertaining, and possibly enlightening read. I heard it’s already optioned for a movie. Makes me think of Zombieland. 

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