Jenna’s world revolves around the racing of genetically engineered smartdogs. Christy escapes her life, and her brother, in her writing. Alex walked away from a woman who is now missing. Orphaned Maree embarks on a voyage to fulfil a destiny she has no choice in. Four people, four lives, four stories and a connection across time and realities.

The Race wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I was drawn to the idea of the smartdog racing against a backdrop of a Britain damaged by fracking. Honestly, the fracking part is of no consequence, and I can understand why some readers were disappointed, but this book actually turned out to be something quite clever instead.

There are five stories, and to some they might seem disjointed, but the connections are there. In fact all the things I felt weren’t that great in Jenna’s story, which comes first, were completely OK when I got to Christy’s story. As I saw it, Christy wrote Jenna’s portion, that’s why it’s not perfect and maybe has a few too many things in.

Yet when we return to the world of smartdogs later on in Maree’s story, there is an inkling to something else. The place names aren’t quite right and there are allusions to alternate worlds. Maybe it’s just another of Christy’s stories, and she’s not that great with continuity, but there is an element from Alex’s life which he never told Christy that appears, in a way, in Maree’s world, dismissing the idea that it is another book within a book.

Sapphire revealed itself to me only gradually, a town within a town, nestled into the shadows of my birthplace as the truth of a things lies concealed within its outward appearance.

There are parallels between Jenna’s story and Christy’s. Christy uses elements of her life to shape her story, from trips to the races as a child, to her brother Derek, clearly Del in Jenna’s tale. Christy chooses to leave a trauma out of her written world, perhaps rewriting the event as the way she would have wanted it.

The title could be taken quite literally, with the smartdog racing and a specific race of importance in one story. But each one refers to race in a different way; human evolution, discrimination, cultural folklore and hints at races unknown to us. In Maree’s story, language and our place in the world is explored, even questioned.

Words are what humans are, even more than flesh.

The final story, Brock Island, carries on from Maree’s story in a more traditional way, but many years later. It has left me ruminating for days after finishing… Thought-provoking and different, I’d recommend The Race if you’re not after a post-apocalyptic, genetically altered dog adventure!

The Race is published by Titan Books and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.