Book of the Day
2020 Silver Falchion Nominee
by Ted Neill
Publication Date: September 2019
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Reaper Moon by Ted Neill
Review by Katie McGuire
Reaper Moon opens in 2024, after a terrible virus that attacks humans’ largest organ—the skin—spreads rapidly around the globe, and millions die an awful, painful death. It soon becomes clear that the virus is more likely to affect the Caucasian population, and so almost overnight, people of color become the majority on the planet. Readers follow the characters through what is basically a post-apocalyptic America, where this “new world order” has caused a strong resurgence of white nationalist sentiment, daily bouts of violence, and an ongoing struggle to survive.
In a unique and fascinating set-up for the story, Reaper Moon opens with journal entries from a woman named Kimberly, which basically provide enough information to fill in the backstory blanks. The journal entries are detailed and clearly well thought out. In this future world where people of color now hold the unquestioned majority, the juxtaposition of opening with a black woman’s journal, then pivoting the focus of the main narrative to a white teenage boy was an interesting choice.
The author made an admirable attempt to weave our current political moment into the narrative and explain how modern groups or factions would become twisted in the aftermath of this terrible outbreak. Through in-story discussions around important topics like race relations, equality (or lack thereof), and the US healthcare system, the characters were able to scratch the surface and hopefully spur readers to serious contemplation of the complex issues surrounding these modern problems. Science fiction has always been used to point at social issues in our present day and show readers what is going wrong and how they can do better, and Reaper Moon does just that.
Katie McGuire is an editor at Pegasus Books, largely focusing on their Pegasus Crime imprint. She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing and returned to her native New York upon graduation to begin her career in publishing. She has worked on both fiction and nonfiction projects at Pegasus, and has a particular soft spot for mysteries, true crime, royalty, superheroes, and spies.