Very entertaining story about Mankind living underground in what’s called Downways. Their big enemy is a giant rat mutated by radiation following World War Three. The monster is called Daggertooth. Then there are the human mutants called Oddlies.
The book revolves around Shirl from girlhood to adulthood and John-A, an android created to be a new Hero. The first Hero became a legend and figure of worship after he killed a Daggertooth and died in the battle. Shirl is a trukid who is a product of her parents while John-A is a vatkid since he was grown inside a vat from a slice of flesh.
The trukids attend classes and learn from film strips that were left behind by the Old People. They lived Up Top and were wiped out by radiation. The usual diet are recycled worms and maggots. A council of Elders makes the decisions. The population is mostly timid. Even the hunters fade when faced with danger. The hunters provide food by killing passive giant worms.
The people have what are called hibes where they sleep for a long period or stay awake for a substantial amount of time. As Shirl matures she becomes a teacher and has several confrontations with a few students. She’s curious about how everything came to be and often goes exploring on her own or with an older man named Ned. One big difference between the Downways people from the Old People is that Shirl and everyone else can see in the dark through infra red.
The Elders appoint Shirl as John-A’s teacher. It’s not easy since he’s a conceited jerk and since he’s an android feels superior and is totally into his role as a new Hero. John-A is anxious to do battle with the Oddlies and raises a small army. He has a real blood lost and doesn’t believe in taking prisoners. He’s positive he can kill the Daggertooth and become a new legend.
The head of the Oddlies is a giant who calls himself Threesum, Somehow he seems to know all the moves the people are making against him. Shirl and the head hunter Max are captured by the Oddlies. Shirl is horrified when she finds out why the giant is called Threesum.
The story is very well paced and loaded with action and adventure. The Oddlies may cause some readers to think they’re in pulpland but that’s just one facet of this excellent read that has a great wrap up..