Novel: Persona by Genevieve Valentine

Genevieve Valentine’s Persona (2015) falls so squarely in my reading wheelhouse, it’s almost ridiculous. This near-future thriller takes us to Paris, where Suyana Supaki—the diplomatic “Face” of the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation—is a minor player in the complex politics of the International Assembly. Outwardly a low-level puppet with little influence, Suyana also has a hidden agenda and fierce resolve to carry it out. When an assassination attempt nearly claims her life, she receives unexpected aid from Daniel Park, a “snap” (think: opportunistic papparazzi) who has been stalking her for his own secret purposes. Together, in over their heads, they struggle to survive against Suyana’s mysterious enemies and realize their individual goals, all while trying to evade the harsh, unforgiving lens of the world media stage.

Reminding me a little of William Gibson’s Blue Ant series, Persona is a compelling genre-bender fusing a hard-edged political thriller plot with a science fictional backdrop, plus a little understated romance. There’s a thoughtful, musing sensibility to the prose, but it’s powered by the fast-paced narrative energy of a spy adventure. It makes for a unique vibe that works well as a window onto interesting SFnal speculation about diplomacy, the media, and the business of intelligence-gathering in the future. Suyana and Daniel are accessible, sympathetic protagonists, and headline a richly diverse, international cast of characters. I whipped right through this one and loved every minute.

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