Street Freaks - an interesting dystopian story
Terry Brooks, best known as the author of the Shannara series, offers up a dystopian sci-fi tale set in the United Territories, which is the country that was formed after the fall of the United States. Ash Collins is a typical teenager working on his homework when he gets a vidview from his Dad. "Ash! Get out now! Go into the Red Zone. Go to Street Freaks. Don't wait!" his out of breath Dad urgently says before the call gets abruptly cut off. Ash is pretty surprised by that call since the Red Zone is the forbidden area of Los Angeles that is way too dangerous for him to have ever been there; however, when his apartment is suddenly assaulted he flees out a window without a real plan. Ash has lived a sheltered life and is ill prepared to be hunted by professionals, so when his Dad shows up on the news for supposedly committing suicide, Ash has little choice but to follow his Dad's cryptic final instructions and head into the Red Zone to find Street Freaks, whatever that is.
This is a story that grabs you quickly when Ash becomes hunted for an unknown reason and you wind up discovering how this dystopian future works right along with him. It quickly becomes apparent that those who live in the Red Zone are mostly cast offs from society and have been altered through physical and biological experimentation gone wrong. The corporations that seek to make life better for the masses have used and discarded these people as they work to bring new products to market and his Dad was a bioengineer that worked for just such a company. The Red Zone is indeed dangerous and Ash is a fish out of water as he tries to find out what Street Freaks is and why his Dad wanted him to go there. He is also pretty sure that his Dad did not commit suicide and was actually murdered, so once he reaches Street Freaks he is going to need to figure out why.
This winds up being a decent little Oceans-11 type story with an usual cast of characters set in an interesting dystopian future. The world building is engaging and the characters are likable enough which makes it easy to root for Ash to be successful and unravel the mystery of what happened to his Dad and also figure out why he is being hunted. It's a nice little stand alone story from Terry Brooks that I wouldn't quite classify as YA although it does feel that it is targeted at a slightly younger audience.
The audiobook version is narrated by Simon Vance and he does a great job as always.