Defekt by Nino Cipri
When “Don’t Be Evil” Fails, Try “Don’t Be Boring”: It’s worked for us since 1958.
Derek is LitenVärld’s most loyal employee—he lives and breathes the store. He practices customer service mantras in the mirror. He even lives in a shipping container graciously provided by the company in the back lot. So what if the other employees think he’s weird. He only cares what his boss Trisha thinks—until he disappoints her by calling in sick after the the wormhole opens up. Suddenly, something weird is growing in Derek’s throat, and higher management wants to talk to him…
Anytime there’s a problem, throw the least convenient people overboard.
I really, really enjoyed this!
I don’t really want to spoil too much of it, although the blurb does mention that he’s assigned to the special inventory team to hunt down defective toys, and he meets four strangers who look exactly like him. However, the main plotline is the Island of Misfit Toys meets Send in the Clones meets hyper-capitalism.
Derek was a fascinating main character, and I want to say autistic-coded? From his stimming to hyperfocusing to his struggles on social cues (hard same dude, I mean, how do people just inherently get social cues and shit), it seemed that way? Although he never outright says it, but I really, really enjoyed the representation. He’s always felt distant and different because he is different, and while there are reasons for that that he can’t control, he also discovers there are other things he can control—and influence. And that family and friends can be found in many different places.
I really wish that it was longer, but what I got was pleasant, incredibly queer, and so much fun—while also being an insightful take-down of capitalistic, dehumanizing big box stores and upper management and hyper masculinity, and in a way, while also being a beautiful response to everything that happened in 2020?
By that I mean—how when the pandemic first started (and to today, over a year later), non-disabled or immunocompromised people basically threw every vulnerable person under the bus and blatantly disregarded or callously swept-aside marginalized, vulnerable communities because those communities weren’t convenient to the Greater Society.
In a sense, this feels like a love letter to those who have disabilities, visible or invisible, or those who are neurodiverse or just don’t fit in to whatever MainStream (*ahem* whyte, cisallohet society) deems acceptable.
And it is fantastic.
From the author’s note, which seems like a perfect ending for this review:
If you’re reading this book, and have gotten this far down in the acknowledgments, I’m grateful for you too. It means that we survived 2020, despite its best efforts. Fuck yeah.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Defekt releases April 20, 2021 (hehehe of course it does) from Tor.com.