Book Review: State Tectonics by Malka Older (Centenal Cycle #3)

Genre : Science Fiction, Technothriller

Publisher : TorDotCom

Length : 432 pages

Format : Audiobook

Rating : 4 stars

Publication Date : September 11th 2018

PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION

The future of democracy must evolve or die.

The last time Information held an election, a global network outage, two counts of sabotage by major world governments, and a devastating earthquake almost shook micro-democracy apart. Five years later, it’s time to vote again, and the system that has ensured global peace for 25 years is more vulnerable than ever.

Unknown enemies are attacking Information’s network infrastructure. Spies, former superpowers, and revolutionaries sharpen their knives in the shadows. And Information’s best agents question whether the data monopoly they’ve served all their lives is worth saving, or whether it’s time to burn the world down and start anew.

BOOK REVIEW

State Tectonics is the last book in Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle, a trilogy of technothrillers set in a future where Information, a powerful search engine created to provide its users with reliable data, manages the global micro-democracy elections. Centenals, geographical areas housing 100 000 individuals, are governed by micro-governments. One is able to choose to live in a Centenal ruled by a political party that fits one’s beliefs and values. For example, citizens concerned by ecology can vote for EarthFirst, a political party focused on the environment while other people may favor PhillipMorris, Mitsubishi, Heritage or Policy1st.

This idea is very reminiscent of Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota where governments are not linked to geography but to ideas. Indeed, Centenals all over the world can be managed by the same political party and every citizen is free to live wherever they want. They can also choose to live in null states, places where Information is more or less blind and powerless depending on the null state.


State Tectonics is set five years after the events of Null States. Whereas the previous two books centered around the elections, State Tectonics focuses on Information itself, the hidden power behind the micro-democracy system.

Information was created to provide reliable and unbiased news and data accessible at all times in every Centenal. Another of Information’s mission is to manage the elections. However, the legitimacy of this system is questioned after the sabotage of the last election by Heritage. Indeed, more and more people are starting to doubt the system and, at the beginning of the novel, we learn that a series of attacks have been made on Information’s network infrastructures. Several Information agents are missioned to understand who is attacking them and for what purpose and, they must find answers before the next election.

State Tectonics was a great conclusion to a thought-provoking series. I particularly enjoy conclusions that manage to tie a lot of loose ends while still expanding the scope of the story and this book delivered on both aspects! It managed to question the integrity of Information in a clever way and was even more powerful because pretty much all the characters in this book were Information agents. It was fascinating to see them slowly understand the flaws of the institution that they are working for, especially because they all believe in it.

Speaking of characters, it was great to see meet Mishima, Roz and Maryam again (even if it’s always weird to read from a character with the same name as mine!!). I definitely love reading stories about clever and competent women!

However, while I really enjoyed the characters, I wouldn’t say that the Centenal books are very character-driven. The characters are intriguing but they are mostly there to offer the reader glimpses of the fascinating world and to move the plot forward. I personally didn’t mind that at all since I found the story gripping but it may not work for every reader.

If you are looking for a fascinating series about politics, internet neutrality and the dangers of the data monopoly set in a very cool near future world, I highly recommend this trilogy.  I’m looking forward to reading Older’s next works!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: State Tectonics by Malka Older (Centenal Cycle #3)

  1. I keep meaning to start this series! I really need to make an effort this year lol. So glad you’ve enjoyed these! It does worry me a bit that they’re not character driven as that’s usually what I do best with but I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best lol. 🙂

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