Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn
Mifflin Harcourt: 7/11/17
eBook review copy; 288 pages
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn is a recommended murder mystery
set in an agrarian post-apocalyptic society.
The world collapsed decades earlier and survivors of California have
regressed into small towns along the Coast Road where enclaves of people
are organized into households. The new society controls population
growth and has strict guidelines that must be followed for farming the
land. If a household proves that can take care of themselves they may be
awarded a banner. The banner represents a child that the household can
have because having children is a privilege in this society.
Bannerless follows two different stories set in two
different timelines. Both feature Enid, either as a
investigator or when she was a teen. In the present day Enid is an
Investigator. She and Tomas, another Investigator, have to travel from
their home in Haven to Pasadan in order to investigate the possible
murder of a man named Sero. This is Enid's first murder case and she is
determined to do a good job at discovering what really happened. In the
end her investigation leads to even more questions about what happened
and why it occurred. In the timeline from the past a teenage Enid
travels with Dak, an itinerant musician who travels up and down the
Coast Road, singing and playing his guitar.
The plot is set far enough in the future that details about the collapse
aren't really well known. The narrative is interesting, but the world
building feels like it is lacking. The focus is really more on small,
limited aspects of this new society and the investigation. The
Investigators carry notebooks, which seemed very odd and felt out of
place to me. There are also some things from the past that they have
carried into the future, like intradermal birth control implants and
some solar powered cars around, that just felt like anomalies.
The travels of teenage Enid actually detract from the story rather than
explain her current choices or aspects of her personality. It might have
been better to just briefly explain how she knew Dak from the past
rather than spend so much time on their travels. It didn't add to the
While I liked this novel, I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.
This is a quick read, perfect for escapism or a beach read. You won't
need to concentrate on the story in order to follow it.
My review copy was courtesy of Houghton