Squid’s Grief – A Review
In her third novel, D.K. Mok takes a daring plunge into futuristic dystopian fiction – or ‘cyberpunk’, if you will. And she does it very well.
Set in the shady-at-best Baltus City, the action kicks off when Squid – a solitary car thief and expert hacker – accepts one last job to repay the debt she owes to her thuggish boss. However, her plans are derailed when she finds a gagged amnesiac locked in the boot of a stolen car. In a moment of pity, Squid decides to rescue him – a move that proves to have unfortunate (but often amusing) consequences.
Squid gives her new charge a nickname – Grief – and the two become unlikely partners. He keeps watch as she performs increasingly risky heists, and she offers him (rather squalid) shelter and dumpster-salvaged food.
In their escapades, the felonious duo cross paths with Officer Casey, a downtrodden detective fighting against an ever-expanding wave of crime. Though they’re from different sides of the tracks, I found myself rooting for both parties. Squid wants a better life, and Casey wants to succeed at her job – both very human desires. Even in a world apparently taken over by technology and surveillance, the human touch remains important – something that Mok doesn’t forget.
Yet another set of complications arise when Grief begins to be recognised…for all the wrong reasons. Much violence and mystery ensues.
In Squid’s Grief, Mok not only offers a skilful hat-tip to traditional noir and detective fiction, but also a dark urban setting worthy of a superhero comic. Here, we have every staple of her writing: snappy humour, a compelling protagonist, and well-timed action. D.K. Mok is an author who knows how to take a risk and pull it off – and Squid’s Grief shows us exactly what successful ‘cyberpunk’ looks like.