Book Review - ReintegrationQueer dystopian sci-fi that you can lose yourself in.

Lexi Vale has a lot going for her. She’s a respected gang broker who helps keep the peace on the streets of Foundation, she can get any woman she wants, and—oh yeah—she’s a cyborg who can read other people’s thoughts thanks to a chip in her head. The fact that she’s the only person to ever survive having the chip installed makes her very interesting to the people who created it, leading them to send their best hunter after her.

Lexi might be streetwise and have a sharp mind, but her smart mouth and guarded nature have ensured she doesn’t have close friends anymore. Thanks to a handful of old acquaintances and a hot tip from the last person who should be talking to someone like her, Lexi is able to go into hiding with the Open Hand, a benevolent group that runs soup kitchens and does other good charitable deeds to help the poorest of the poor in Foundation. Even with their help, however, it’s clear that Lexi won’t be able to stay hidden for long.

Reintegration is a dystopian sci-fi story that paints a grim picture of a very possible future. The gulf between the haves (the Codists—privileged people who follow the Code and live in enclaves where no one wants for anything) and the have nots (everyone who lives outside of the enclaves) is immeasurably huge. Even the Codists who aren’t in the top echelon have more than most of the people who live in the anarchy that is the rest of Foundation. Gangs rule, drugs abound, the flesh trade is alive and well, and for the right price you can have anything, including body modifications that we could only dream of today (gills, anyone?).

It’s also a future where it’s not safe to be queer, whether that means sleeping with someone of the same sex or not identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth. Despite that, however, Reintegration celebrates queerness through its characters like Lexi who is a nonbinary woman who loves other women in all of their forms. Lexi doesn’t care about other people’s opinions and she thumbs her nose at every convention society has to offer, especially when it comes to who she chooses to warm her bed. The supporting cast also includes a trans man and a trans woman, and if you ever want a primer for how to handle trans characters, pick up this book and pay attention. They are fully formed characters with strong feelings and motivations, neither of them get deadnamed or fetishized even as they’re sharing their back stories, and they never feel like cardboard cutouts—all of which is exactly as it should be.

While Reintegration may be her first book published as Eden S. French, the author has previously published two books under the name Sophia French. Anyone who’s read The Diplomat or Fruit of the Golden Vine won’t be surprised to see how excellent the writing is, even if their eyebrows raise at the shift from historic fantasy to a grim look at what our future could be (and let’s be honest—with politics increasingly favoring a divide between the highest and lowest classes, and stripping away hard-won human rights, we may be headed there quicker than we want to admit). French’s writing is sharp, her characters are well-developed, and her world building is as masterful as it is immersive. If you’re a fan of brilliant books you can lose yourself in, you’ll definitely want to pick up Reintegration.

Get it on Apple Books