Reviews /

Electric Life

Authored by Rachel Delahaye
Published by Troika Books

An engaging, fast-paced, young adult novel set in near dystopian future.

Alara lives in Estrella. Estrella consists of 100 skyscrapers built above what was once London. The society she lives in has been designed to be for the good of all. Everyone has a place to live (although some have better places than others), there is no disease, no pain and no-one ever goes outside the sanitised towers. Everything is provided for the inhabitants but everyone is under constant surveillance. Emotions like boredom are monitored and policed. Refuse and rubbish are dumped through pipes to the ground below.

Alara is an expert at the provided virtual reality games and this gets her noticed by the powers that be. Alara is tasked with an important mission. She is dropped down to the ground to survey the foundations of the towers. However, she discovers that what she has been told about the ground is untrue. There are people living there in a place called London Under. These people have rejected the sanitised world above. They feel pain, they get ill, they experience intense emotions, eat tasty real food, have noisy celebrations and enjoy the great outdoors. They also are very suspicious of Alara, who is not sure whether she will survive in such a place and complete her mission.

Electric Life is a very readable, action-packed fantasy set in a credible near future. Alara is a likable heroine who has her initial outlook on how life is lived challenged as the novel unfolds. The author develops a number of themes concerning how society might be organised. Should people be safe and healthy in an inevitably highly controlled world or is dirt, pain, disease, poor housing, freedom to think and live how one chooses better?

Electric Life would be an excellent addition to a secondary school’s library stock for readers of 12 years and above. Recommended.

Longlisted for the 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing

Longlisted for the Spark Book Awards 2024 Fiction 11+ Category