Liberty's daughter by Naomi Kritzer

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An Nebula Award Nominee for Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature (2023), and Lodestar Award Nominee (2024), Liberty’s daughter is a fascinating foray into a near future where separatists escaping the taxes and rules of the US have set up seasteads - old cruise ships and platforms to make a country. Beck Garrison lives on Min, short for New Minerva, a seastead in the Pacific Ocean She is a finder - she finds articles that people want and when she is hired to find a missing woman, an indentured worker, she uncovers things that she did not expect. Her father, a powerful man on the archipelago, is not happy with these discoveries which lead her into danger.

Liberty's Daughter is divided into seven parts and appears to be based on a series of short stories, some previously published. The parts hang together to form a coherent whole and make it easy to read. Beck is an intrepid young woman, who is very skilful at finding things. What she uncovers about the worlds of the seasteaders is shocking. There is a biotech world, a sin city and bond workers are chained to desks performing highly dangerous work. The world that Kritzer describes is well fleshed out and it was easy to picture the different places, especially those built up on cruise ships. 

A coming-of-age story, Beck faces the task of freeing bond slaves that have been tricked into signing contracts. She becomes an advisor for a reality TV show based on the seastead and connects with illegal workers' fights organisers as well as facing a pandemic that threatens everyone lives. With a dysfunctional family setting and some difficult choices for Beck, Liberty's daughter is a thought provoking and intense read.

Readers who enjoyed this might like her award winning Catfishing on CatNet, and try others in the Lodestar Award shortlists for Best YA Book 2024 like Unraveller by Frances Hardinge and The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix.

Themes: Dystopian fiction, Artificial islands, Missing persons, Private investigators, Working class.

Pat Pledger