by Genevieve Valentine
Cover Artist: Getty Images / Brad Wilson
Review by Katie Carmien
Saga Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781481425124
Date: 10 March 2015 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the near-future world of Genevieve Valentine's Persona, diplomacy and celebrity have collided in the form of the Faces, the beautiful, well-heeled elite who make up the International Assembly. But the Faces don't make decisions. Governments and the IA wield the real power. Suyana Sapaki is the Face of the recently formed United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation, a fledgling country that barely makes the C-list. For the most part, her life is just trying to keep her head above water--until she goes to seal an alliance with America, and someone tries to kill her. Daniel Park--rookie rogue journalist, aka a snap--saves her life...and that's when things get complicated. Because neither Suyana nor Daniel is exactly what they seem, and the IA has just burned her. They've got to move fast--or die.
If there's one complaint I have about Persona, it's that it really does move incredibly fast. All 300+ pages encompass less than a week, and because of that I felt somewhat distant from both protagonists, especially Daniel. However, apart from that, everything about this book is wonderful. Suyana, our protagonist, is the shining star. She's all anger and rough edges, strong and competent and incredibly intelligent. But she makes mistakes, too--Suyana is also incredibly human. Despite the fact I sometimes felt like I didn't know her very well, I never felt like she wasn't a real person. Daniel is slightly less compelling, but nevertheless a pleasure to read about, with his driving hunger for a good story that goes the point of dangerous recklessness. The supporting cast--Grace, Face of England; Li Zhao, head of a snap agency--is equally interesting.
Valentine's writing is tight and fast-paced, weaving a sense of urgency and mistrust throughout the entire novel. The danger is real and present--these are literally cutthroat politics, and there's never a moment when Valentine lets you forget that. Nor does it shy away from very real political issues. The UARC doesn't just have to deal with being tiny and overlooked, but with more powerful countries like America gunning for their resources. Political corruption is rampant and insidious. Not once does Valentine try to make any one side completely right or completely wrong. Persona is science fiction and political thriller at its very best.