The Bottom Line: A whip-smart conspiracy thriller that manages to be disturbing, insightful and absurd all at once.
Virtually every character in Tantra Bensko’s cleverly crafted Remember to Recycle defies snap judgment. Nancy, an occasionally homeless woman who moved across states to befriend a mysterious woman named Becky, is a wealth of insider information. She’s also the ultimate unreliable narrator.
Dave is dependent on community recycling for basic survival, and that’s core to his spiritual purpose in life. Like some speculative investigative journalist reading every homework assignment, prescription and diary, he has become an expert on the personal and professional lives of the families in his neighborhood. He even claims to know who is going to live and who is going to die.
At the core of the book are the the Rescuers, a humanitarian aid group. Meanwhile, World War III is threatening to break out. Or is it? Remember to Recycle is filled with layer upon layer of disguises (literal and figurative), bold concepts and red herrings. While the book’s plot is deliberately intricate, it can also be challenging. Thriller fans looking for a summer beach read should look elsewhere, as you’ll constantly be second-guessing the motives and perceptions of Bensko’s characters while the plot reveals itself.
But is it ultimately thrilling? Absolutely. And given how rich Bensko’s story is with character and geopolitics, it’s a powerful mirror for society. We can’t think of a more topic-rich novel for your book club.