When I say “Underworld” I’m not actually talking about life after death, but the depressing underground world of Imran Siddiq’s novel Disconnect. It’s a place where families grow up in darkness and dependent on the refuse of those who live in Overworld. Right away I want to let you know that this book is not written in “American” English; some readers like that, some don’t. I’ve never minded as long as I could understand the structure, and I was able to follow Siddiq’s writing just fine. Now, on to the good stuff:
Disconnect clocks in at a light 279 pages and is told from the point of view of Zachary, the only son of single-father Marcus. Zachary and his dad live on a space base orbiting Jupiter and they reside in the ghetto underground district known as Underworld. Overworld and Underworld rarely interact, but Zachary happens to find a working Intercom while scavenging. Thus his adventures begin.
Through the intercom, Zachary talks to a girl named Rosa. She’s the only child of Ambassador Kade. Zachary and Rosa talk several times, and even meet in person. In their time together, however, the teens discover a sinister plot by the ruling council to clean out Underworld—of everyone and everything.
I liked this book for several reasons, one being that the main character is a boy. I like female main characters a LOT, but it was refreshing to read something from a male perspective and especially from one that was so genuine. Zachary grew up simply, and so he thought about things simply. For example, when he overheard some sketchy communications between soldiers, I (the reader) understood what was going on, but Zachary didn’t—and of course he wouldn’t! He grew up in Underworld where there was no politics! I’m glad Siddiq maintained the integrity of Zachary’s voice no matter what happened.
What I found lacking in Siddiq’s writing was overall fluidity. His story was very interesting and had many exciting parts, but it really, really, really needed work with a fine-toothed comb to smooth out phrasing and compositional issues. Verb agreement, sentence structure, and so on needed some serious work. I don’t say that to be rude, just straightforward—if you enjoy a good story and can power through somewhat novice writing, then Disconnect is for you. I give it 3.5 stars.