Ration by Cody T. Luff
Publisher: Apex Book Company | Release Date: August 13, 2019 | Pages: 232
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We’ve seen a lot stories based in a post apocalyptic future, most of which deal with the loss of some sort of life-giving material. People fight for water, gas, food, their sanity. Personally, I think they can all easily blur together when you start thinking about them. Sometimes they put a small spin on the formula, but most of the time it’s nothing new. With all of this in mind know that when I tell you Cody Luff’s Ration is in fact something new and terrifying, I’m saying this as a jaded person who was ready to give up on the genre. But, Luff cracked the code and found a whole new avenue to make you afraid of the future.
Ration’s biggest strength? Luff’s ability to horde information like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. Little crumbs drop from his hands and we greedily grab them up, eating the tiny morsels to gain just a bit of knowledge about the world. And what do we learn? The world is falling apart, everyone is hungry, society simultaneously loves and hates what it needs to do to survive. As the book progresses, we get more and more of the picture, but only seeing what Luff wants us to see. It’s frustrating in the most wonderful way, truly putting us into the minds of the characters and learning along with them.
We start out in an apartment with one of the main characters, Cynthia. Through her eyes we learn about the hunger of the world, how it seems to be run on three different levels of rations. The girls have to self regulate which ration they eat, but the highest level comes with a terrible price. It took me a few chapters to pick up on what Luff was doing. I kept flipping back and forth through the pages to see if I missed why Cynthia and the other girls were doing what they were doing for the rations. But, once I realized how Luff wanted to keep us in the dark, much like Cynthia, I understood and was frightened. I feared what everything meant and what was just outside of our sight.
As the story progresses we discover that there are no more men, livestock died off and the very ground itself withered into poison. The Women of Ration tried to keep society going, tried to keep living (I capitalized women because that is the label they give themselves in the book). We see this through Ms. Tuttle, the counterpoint to Cynthia. She runs the apartment, one of the last places to process the rations. Can you see where I might be going with this? They might hate it, we see people fighting against it, but the only thing left to eat is each other. Hence the difference between Women and girls.
Luff is giving us a stark look at class and society. He’s not making a commentary on what a world full of women would look like. Throughout the story we see the Women wearing makeup, gossiping, making music, but it’s these Women that are also turning a blind eye to what is happening in the “farms.” Luff is looking at how the rich eat the poor, try to keep them down while at the same time promising them the class of Woman as long as they do the right things. Sometimes this comes out in brutality, sometimes this comes out in lectures of how a Woman would act. But, in the end class and society doesn’t matter when the only constant is the pangs of hunger keeping you alive. I love this twist on a post-apocalyptic story and how Luff uses it to examine how we treat each other.
I think this will be an important book, the type of book that’ll have a lot of people talking. It’s not only a warning about our resources, but also about those in charge and what they are willing to do to stay that way. Luff manipulates suspense and prose to create an effective vision of a future that is focused on society, while at the same time being about cannibalism.