By: Cindy Pon
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart? – Goodreads
Want is a dystopian sci-fi novel set in a future where the oxygen is no longer good to breath. Viruses and pollution allow only for the most wealthy to be able to travel in suits that circulate good air for them to breathe while the majority who are poor need to live short lives and deal with the horrible environment that surrounds them. The story itself isn’t just a dystopian setting but there is a secondary plot involving the romance between the main characters of the story as they sit on different sides of the situation, a little Romeo and Juliet but a little less dramatic and a lot less tragic. The main plot being the one that does have much more resonance than the romantic angle which seems much more basic.
The story takes place in futuristic Taipei setting. The setting itself is the center of where the “evil” big corporation is located despite its international stance with the wonderful technology that its created for the rich and as it starts to expand to the normal everybody in order to achieve better living. However, the ploy does run a little deeper as the main character Jason Zhou and his friends starts to infiltrate into their operations as he dives into a growing friendship with Daiyu. The whole technology layout and the big Jin Corp building as well as the layout of the city between the rich and the poor area is well-described as well as the world/city setting is rather immersive to read. Its one of the bigger elements of the story especially in the big showdown when the big plan unfurls as it dives into the whole structure of this prominent building in the city.
Another element of this is the friendships between Jason Zhou and his friends. These characters are built really well. There are certain friendship connections and romances and a lot of them are fairly subtle until the big situations happen. All of the characters also have very distinguishing traits where gives them their own set of skills worthy of being a part of this group. The whole infiltration plans one by one also reveals a lot about each of the characters that Jason works with which makes them not dispensable. Of course, the focus is on Jason since he gets to be a character torn between knowing about the struggles of the poor and trying to go through this whole revolution/payback against the big evil corporation while at the same time, he has an undercover identity and gets closer to Daiyu who may be the daughter of the CEO of the corporation but also is a fairly upstanding character overall.
Overall, Want is a pretty decent dystopian sci-fi novel. While the romance sometimes seems to drag out a little, the most exciting part is the world building as it focuses on the Taipei setting but also the economic and social issues of the world. The focus on the technology is also pretty cool plus this future doesn’t feel completely a leap in imagination as the world we live in together struggle with potential causes of what could happen in the future.