If, Then by Kate Hope Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A quick, well-paced read. While this is technically science fiction it doesn’t read like typical sci-fi at all. Easily read by anyone due to its contemporary setting and strong characters.
When most people think of science fiction they imagine space, aliens and/or monstrous species (think Predator). But the reality is there is a whole area of sci-fi that is often left in the fiction section. Often set in modern day life, where everything can be explained by Earth science and is rooted in current known scientific principles. Michael Crichton is easily the most famous writer of this genre. If, Then is perfectly suited to be classified next to Crichton or Blake Crouch.
The scientific topics in Kate Hope Day’s novel range from medicine to frog migration to bunker load capacity. I think the topics are presented in a very accessible way for any reading or education level.
As everyone in our novel is connected in some way (by family, friendship, co-worker or neighbour) it could be argued that it is a bit tough to create diversity in the pages. However Day does a good job of giving us different families, ethnicities, religions and a lesbian relationship. There was something missing for me however. All our families are built off the premise that a family constitutes at minimum one child and one parent. I would have liked more focus on Ginny (our single lesbian who lives on her own and is a supporting character) or one additional couple whom are perhaps older and have no children (for whatever reason) that are featured like our other characters. The point of view changes in If, Then between all the characters so you get to know them very well. I know my desire for a couple without children is because I wanted a character or two I could relate to easier.
I think anyone who can relate to one of the main characters will be enamoured with the dynamic relationships that Day has given us. Even before things start to really ‘happen’, just past halfway, I felt like I could anticipate how our characters would react. That’s generally a good sign as it means the characters make sense and are well established. Each has their own inner struggle and unique reaction to the odd things happening around them.
I keep telling my husband if we had random extra money laying around (lol) I might set up a bit of a doomsday prepping area of our home. We laugh and blow it off; even though both of us have genuinely indicated that being prepared is important. The question of course becomes how important. Day brings to light what all dystopian (pre or post) fiction does; preppers last longer and are often the only ones to survive. Let’s face it most people don’t even have enough drinking water in their home for 3 days without power and water (never mind a week). If this story doesn’t make you go buy or organize some extra supplies at your house then you probably missed part of the point.
You may wonder why I don’t say much about the plot in If, Then. The thing is anything I say regarding the plot is likely to give things away. There are many nuances in the plot and it’s easy to guess how things likely go. Yet that didn’t distract me from wanting to know how each person coped with what was or would happen.
This would have been a five star book if I had found one character to feel more connected to. It was really the only thing missing for me. As Day’s book is very focused on the characters and so it’s hard for me to ignore the feeling that one more character set would have been the icing on the cake for this story.
That said, this is a well executed character study set in a reality that could be right now and certainly makes you think about our realities and existence.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Follow me on Goodreads