Updated: Jul 14
Here at Books Outside the Box, we love a dystopia. We have recently included in our sub boxes Suicide Club by Rachel Heng and Dark Lullaby by Polly Ho-Yen. Like Suicide Club, Guy Morpuss's debut imagines a world in which humans are essentially indestructible -- but also considers the sustainability of the overpopulation that is inherent in this eventuality. What follows is an intriguing premise for a murder mystery with Agatha Christie-like twists and turns.
Guy Morpuss's Five Minds is worked on the premise of five consciousnesses time-sharing one body. Each is allotted four hours and, in return, they will receive a new body every twenty-five years and have a longer lifespan than people who choose other population-sustaining options. In this world, time is currency, and the protagonist(s) enter a death park where remaining lifetime can be gambled for the highest stakes.
What follows is a combined whodunnit interspersed with escape room narratives. Being a huge fan of both these things, this book was a perfect novelty for me. The different personalities housed in the single body are brilliantly realised, and the narrative is carefully written in a way that obscures which of the five knows more than the others (putting me in mind of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie).
Besides providing an exciting and intriguing story, the world-building in this book is truly excellent. Morpuss has considered so many possibilities through to fascinating conclusions -- from the question of population sustainability to simulation and the future of VR/AR to the future of currency. The book touches on ideas of post-gender (and post-humanism?) in a way I would have loved to explore in more detail, but wanting more is really my only criticism of this book. I really hope we get more stories in this world -- not necessarily with these characters, but exploring different aspects of this future from different perspectives.
With thanks to Netgalley.com and the publishers for the e-advanced review copy of this book.
Five Minds will be released on September 2nd 2021, and is available for preorder here.