All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise by Neve Maslakovich
[This book is one of my group’s official semifinalists.]
New Seattle is an exclusive city in the midst of a frozen wasteland. The population is brutally controlled to ensure the society can continue to thrive, by whatever definition of thriving the elites have chosen. Many simply work to create goods and services for 10,000 people who dominate the culture of New Seattle through their brands. Delilah is foremost in brands, a walking symbol of epic marketing, thoughtfulness of pose and expression, and more. And… she’s dead.
Our story follows Scottie as she comes of age in this society and tries to form her own brand so that she won’t (potentially) be kicked out into the (literal, deadly) cold. It’s an absolutely fabulous premise to start off with. The story is told largely from Scottie’s perspective, and purports to tell us about what happened to the eponymous Delilah. I was super interested in finding out more about the world and the mystery of what happened to Delilah.
Unfortunately, after a promising start, the novel started to drag. Large portions of the middle section turned into discourse about what individual gems could mean, various discussions of brands, and more. Rather than letting the characters build the world, the world was relayed through lengthy info dumps. I typically don’t mind info dumps, so long as they’re punctuated by action or major character moments, but the middle section of the book read to me like it was an info dump followed by more people sitting around talking followed by an info dump (rinse/repeat). It made the book slow down to a crawling pace. Realistically, a lot of this could have been cut while still keeping the core plot engaging.
The ending was good, with a surprisingly hopeful upturn. I liked it, and it left me as a reader feeling better about having read the book, but it also felt a bit like too little, too late. The promising start with its interesting world and thrilling potential never seemed fully realized. The story of Delilah’s demise went to the side while characters seemed to flounder.
I hugely enjoyed the beginning of All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise, but some of my enjoyment fizzled out by the end. I would be interested in sampling another work in this world by the author, but would want more action and dynamic world building.
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