William Sutcliffe’s most recent young adult novel We See Everything is an absorbing and chilling tale of life in a fenced-in and heavily surveyed, three-mile wide section of London, known as The London Strip. Set in a dystopian future where technology has been developed to deadly levels to remotely control, maim and even eliminate The Strip’s inhabitants, the environment is at times also grimly reminiscent of Dickens’s portrayals of Victorian slums in its descriptions of crippling poverty, cramped, congested living spaces and the struggle to survive in a harsh urban environment.
Recounted from the alternating perspectives of Lex and Alan, two young men who never meet but whose destinies are intertwined, this novel grapples with important ethical questions about state surveillance and technological warfare, citizens’ rights and freedoms. It might also make the reader ponder on the potentially dehumanising effects of video-gaming. Nonetheless, humanity, optimism and warmth also have their place in this novel in its touching depiction of first love and emphasis on the importance of family ties.
We See Everything is thought-provoking, gripping and, at times, quite moving.