Poster Boy is a dystopian thriller set in a not too distant future Britain. This Britain is scarily not dissimilar in some ways from the one we know today. The country has become polarised with the ERP controlling the UK like a totalitarian government. The ERP are an extremely nationalist and racist party and blame all of the UK’s problems on immigration and terrorism.
The story is told from two viewpoints, that of Rosa, unwitting pawn in the story and Teresa, an activist in Gridless (a protest group that uses technology to disrupt the ERP’s control). NJ Crosskey began writing this book before Trump’s ascendance and before the whole Brexit debacle. The ERP’s ultimate aim is to microchip all UK citizens ostensibly to make the UK a safer place. People who are un-microchipped such as migrants will be viewed with suspicion and unable to receive benefits or even shop for essential items such as food. Therefore the unchipped will become official outcasts who cannot participate in British society. This chilling premise has echoes of the treatment of those the regime saw as the ‘Other’ in Nazi Germany.
Propaganda is used to full effect in this story and Rosa’s family are fractured and manipulated to full effect. Her brother serves as the convenient ‘Poster Boy’ by the ERP, even though he lived a life contrary to the goals of the party. Crosskey paints a terrifying scenario of a future Britain that forces its citizens to either toe the line and sacrifice their autonomy, or become activists living on the edge of society. This future Britain has caused rampant depression affecting many citizens which in turn has increased drug misuse. In Poster Boy, it seems that some people would rather live in a pharmaceutically induced haze than face the frightening situation of their lives in such a world. These people are merely existing rather than living and this prospect is a frightening one but as with the opioid crisis of America, perhaps this is a reality that has real resonance today.
This is a deeply impressive read and I recommend that you do read it as it is relevant to the society that we live in and should serve as a warning of the society that we could become.