Jun 282021

Publishers Weekly: In gorgeous prose, Mohamed (Beneath the Rising) conjures a post–climate apocalypse future in which “the chain of knowledge and study” has broken and humanity “live[s] in the scattered links that remain.” With few resources left, survival hinges on collective collaboration. So when 19-year-old Reid receives an acceptance letter from a college many believe to be a myth, she’s equally elated and guilt-ridden: how can she leave her community and ailing mother for a place that may not even be real? Complicating her decision is the Cad, a “semi-sapient” fungal parasite that lives beneath her skin. It lies dormant for years before “going off,” and there’s no cure for it and no guarantee as to how it will affect those infected. As Reid argues with her mother about her future and navigates her changing relationship with her best friend, she begins to fear that the Cad is controlling her actions. Mohamed grounds her complex, chilling vision of the future in accessible human drama, keeping a tight focus on Reid’s difficult decision and the tension it creates in her relationships. It’s an impressive feat of worldbuilding made stronger by the sensitive, nuanced characters and urgent questions about what people owe to each other. This packs a punch.