Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Mulholland Books | July 2016
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Format: 336 Pages | 9½ hours | Rating: 4½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
It is the present day and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking, and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: The Civil War never occurred.
What if Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before he had a chance to serve as president? What if the Civil War never happened? What would the present day United States be like?
In Underground Airlines, the author has created an alternate history detective story told through the eyes of a former slave, Victor. In Victor’s world, four states still allow slavery, and according to the constitution it can never be abolished.
To keep his freedom, Victor had to agree to work as bounty hunter for the US Marshalls and track down runaways. We see that he is good at his job as he almost effortlessly picks up the trail of a runaway slave hiding in the Midwest. But Victor is a conflicted character — he knows what he is doing is wrong, and this case is particularly troubling: Something is not right, documents are missing from the file, and things are not what they appear to be.
I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller set in a believable world with a thought-provoking ending. Will there be a sequel? I hope so; there is plenty of material for another story in this well-developed alternate world.
I listened to part of this novel which was expertly narrated by William DeMeritt. Through his voice we can feel the conflict, and often despair, that Victor feels. Both audio and print versions were equally compelling.
Source: Review copy provided by Mulholland Books.
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