The Resisters takes place in a world where most jobs have been eliminated due to automation, the world is flooded thanks to climate change, and America is run by a deranged AI people refer to as Aunt Nettie. We follow the lives of one Surplus family, through the eyes of the husband and father, Grant. (Surplus are those people that were deemed unretrainable when Automation took over, and therefore don’t work anymore, but are expected to consume via their Living Points, alotted to them via Aunt Nettie.) The daughter of this family, Gwen, has a golden arm. She can throw hard, fast, and with almost perfect accuracy. Eventually this leads the family to start up an illegal Surplus baseball league.
I was frustrated with this book on multiple levels. I suppose I’ll get my big complaint out of the way and tell you there are no chapters, only four parts, and we all know how much I love that…
But most importantly, I could not shake the feeling that this story was told from the wrong person’s POV. Grant is largely an observer in all these events that feel like they happen to his wife and daughter. And sure he’s a valid character, but I just don’t think he was the right character. The plot revolves around Gwen. We are told her story via GreetingGrams (basically letters) that are sent back and forth to her parents in one part and it frustrated me because I wanted to care about Gwen more than I did and couldn’t because of this distance created between her and the reader.
The worldbuilding is vast and detailed, and the author manages to comment on many relevant issues: racism, sexism, politics, climate change, privacy…. but again, Grant is largely unaffected by many of them, given his removal from much of the action. It just didn’t feel like effective commentary to me. It’s Gwen that experiences what it’s like to be one of two female players on a high performance baseball team, Gwen that attends a university where she is the only person of color thanks to a process called “PermaDerming” (bleaching your skin, basically).
As far as plot and pacing go- this is a character driven book, and most of the action is saved for part four. Most of the characters are likable (except for one whose personality was all over the place). Most of the book is slow and there were several times I wanted to DNF. I did become more invested around the halfway mark, as Gwen’s story picks up, but a lot of it was just too slow for my taste.
Finally, the ending was really a disaster for me. I think in America we expect stories about baseball to be uplifting, and while some of the games had the powerful feeling, the ending is ruined by some very dark events that take place and don’t really seem to fit the tone of the rest of the book.
Overall I had very mixed feelings. If you are interested in the dystopian aspect, I recommend reading it with a buddy so you can pick it apart and bounce ideas off each other. If you are interested in the baseball (I was not) then go ahead and give it a try. You might enjoy this more.