cover image Panther in the Hive

Panther in the Hive

Olivia A. Cole. Fletchero Publishing (, $18 paper (472p) ISBN 978-0-9916155-0-6

Cole debuts with a tense and intelligent post-apocalyptic story. In a not-distant future, America is divided along sharp socioeconomic lines. Tasha Lockett, an orphaned African-American young woman, works at a designer pet shop catering to wealthy Chicagoans, while her sister has moved to the now-seceded Nation of California. A token of upward social mobility is the “Chip,” a bodily implant provided to those who can afford the MINK health policy. But that was before the “Change,” when those with the Chip transformed into flesh-eating predators. Tasha leaves the refuge of her apartment, armed with a kitchen knife, in hopes of finding explanations, other unchanged survivors, and—potentially—a cure. Cole’s gritty novel incorporates themes of class warfare, racism, and the tolls of rampant consumerism, amid splashes of dark humor (as when Tasha casually takes out a man who changed while dressed as a hot dog). Throughout, Tasha’s humanity is poignantly conveyed in moments in which she steals away to a bathroom to apply makeup or clings to her Prada backpack as a last vestige of normalcy. A sequel is planned. Ages 12–up. [em](BookLife) [/em]