Company Town by Madeline AshbyCompany Town by Madeline Ashby

Company Town

byMadeline Ashby

Paperback | July 18, 2017

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2017 Winner of the Sunburst Award Society's Copper Cylinder Adult Award
2017 Canada Reads Finalist
2017 Locus Award Finalist for Science Fiction Novel Category
2017 Sunburst Award Finalist for Adult Fiction
2017 Aurora Awards Finalist for Best Novel

Madeline Ashby's Company Town is a brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can't be saved, or saving herself.

"Elegant, cruel, and brutally perfect, Company Town is a prize of a novel." -Mira Grant, New York Times Bestselling and Hugo-Award nominated author of the Newsflesh series

New Arcadia is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.

Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bio-engineered enhancements. As such, she's the last truly organic person left on the rig-making her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of self-defense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city's stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa's front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to be-but now, the danger is personal.

MADELINE ASHBY is a science fiction writer, strategic foresight consultant, anime fan, and expat. Her debut series about killer robots included vN and the sequel, iD. Her essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing,, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, and Since late 2014, she has been a regular columnist ...
Title:Company TownFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.25 × 5.56 × 0.78 inPublished:July 18, 2017Publisher:Tom Doherty AssociatesLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0765382911

ISBN - 13:9780765382917


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nonsensical. Sometimes my kids will start telling me a story, it will start in the middle, it will have no context, no explanation and will make absolutely no sense. That's what reading this book is like.
Date published: 2018-05-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing! I was so looking forward to this book, but was greatly disappointed. It has potential and the bones of a great story, but it was so poorly executed I almost stopped reading it several times.
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing Sci-Fi Mystery! Set in New Acadia off the east coast of Newfoundland, “Company Town” opens when Go Jung Hwa, a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada on the city-sized oil rig is hired by Lynch Limited the conglomerate taking ownership and who needs her to protect the CEO’s youngest son Joel who’s been receiving death threats. One of few organics left in the community who has no genetic enhancements, a seizure disorder and highly developed self-defense skills she’s hired by Daniel Siofra from Lynch’s Urban Tactics department to return to high school to watch over Joel as well as training him to defend himself against any attacks. Sprinkled throughout this action-packed pageturner are several mysteries which include not only a rash of death threats hounding Joel, a phantom killer dogging her footsteps but the seemingly unrelated murders of Hwa’s friends, unionized prostitutes. Intensity and suspense escalate with a shooter at Joel’s high school and growing suspicions about the destruction of the Old Rig as well as the secrecy behind a project that changed Siofra and stole his memory ten years before. Gritty in language and tone, scattered throughout the plot are dashes of humor, a deepening friendship and a romance which defuses the tension and violence. Well-written and imaginative, Madeline Ashby has a clever way of blending sci-fi, and mystery with a look at social issues like prejudice and the positive and negative sides of genetic engineering. Breathing life into this chilling sci-fi mystery are complex and spirited characters like Go Jung Hwa, the daughter of a prostitute who feels ugly, labelled and unloved because of her appearance. Haunted by the death of her brother a fighter who worked on the "Old Rig" that exploded, she's tough, determined and at her peak in physical conditioning. Often plagued by a lack of self-confidence emotionally, in her job she's indomitable, fearless and brave. Fifteen-year-old Joel Lynch the heir to the family company is a genius, resourceful, kind and caring while Daniel Siofra is an arrogant company man at first, his compassionate and protective side showing as his relationship with Hwa deepens. I liked ”Company Town” an innovative sci-fi mystery that I couldn’t put down until finished.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was good I liked the idea of the story, it was good, it was hard to follow at times, felt more description may have helped set up the image a little better for the reader.
Date published: 2018-01-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay A different kind of story.
Date published: 2017-12-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay I wasn't sure about the book but got it because it was a good price, it was good enough that I finished the book but it wasn't a book that I was constantly wanting to read it. The end seemed rushed and a little confusing but overall worth the read.
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unsure... Haven't decided if I like this book or not. A strange tale that took a while to get into.
Date published: 2017-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overall a Good Read I had trouble getting into this book, but was eventually drawn into the story. Some aspects of the ending seemed rushed but overall Hwa was a great character and one I was rooting for. Would love to read another story set in this world. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-09-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A thoroughly under-thought book This book started out really well, but then petered into something that was chaotic, nonsensical and under-thought. There were too many conveniences, and the plot is so unwieldy it's incredibly distracting. There's a time travelling component that makes no sense! Not worth the read.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A laughably terrible book I had very high expectations for this book, and it dashed them most expertly. This book is just terrible. I found it poorly written, with one dimensional characters that I just didn't care about. It tried to tackle important contemporary issues, but it ultimately falls flat and fails spectacularly. The ending is just laughably bad. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It's an insult to contemporary Canadian literature that it made it into CBC's Canada Reads.
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An engrossing read really enjoyed this tale set off the coast of Newfoundland on an oil rig, and the neat science fiction aspect of it.
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good sci fi in a fresh setting Reading this novel, which takes place in oil rig city off the coast of Newfoundland, made me realize how often science fiction settings default to the United States. From the characters' accents, to the universal health care, Company Town was strangely familiar even while it depicted a strange future. I really enjoyed it, although it feels like there were some loose ends left hanging after the final pages.
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! This book had my attention though its entirety. I throughly enjoyed the fact that it is on Canada Reads!
Date published: 2017-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Complex and Interesting I brought this book on an overseas plane ride and finished it in three hours. The plot seemed similar to a lot of other YA/dystopian novels I've read (spunky girl is "not like other girls," ends up having to fight/defend a bad guy, and falls in love along the way). In many ways, it was just that. But the unique twists and Canadian Easter eggs made it an enjoyable read nonetheless. The prostitution/treatment of Indigenous women and girls angle was especially thought-provoking, and overall I was really engrossed in this story.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It! This was a bit of a twist on the typical dystopian plot, and I loved it! Glad to see science fiction on Canada Reads
Date published: 2017-06-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great start, ending got a bit muddled The book started out a bit confusing, I felt i was maybe starting 25% into the story however things picked up and I was roped into the story and the whole mystery. Sci-Fi is not my usual cup of tea but I was loving this story but then the end started to come into view and everything felt rushed and a bit confusing, i felt a little let down.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A nice suprise This book was recommended to me by a co worker, and I am glad they did!
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Don't fully understand... In the near, but distant future, Hwa is one of the last people in her community without any genetic or bio-engineered enhancements. Starting as a bodyguard in with the United Sex Workers of Canada and moving up the ranks as the personal bodyguard to the child of the wealthiest family around, Hwa is forced to question everything she knows when a series of interconnected murders begin to plague their community. Company Town, by Madeline Ashby, was an interesting read. As a Canada Reads contender and a choice for my book club, this novel intrigued me. I had heard so many things about this book, so, even though it was completely outside of my comfort zone, I purchased this book and dove in. I really loved the general concept of this one and the beginning. The female protagonist was awesome; totally kick ass. I was sucked right in. However, after the initial points in the novel, the execution just baffled me. Mind you, I don’t read a whole heck of a lot of fantasy/sci-fi novels, but I found that the jargon became confusing and the storyline left me feeling lost. I feel like maybe it was because I couldn’t fully connect due to all the vocabulary and the plot format. For example, when her mother spoke there were no quotations. This made some dialogue hard to follow. The end of this one was right over my head; I had some ideas of what could have happened but I feel like I didn’t get a true resolution. I think sci-fi fans will eat this one up, but, for me, it was Hwa that kept me reading until the end.
Date published: 2017-05-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging I really enjoyed this book. It moves along at a good pace. I would have liked more backstory, but overall I'm glad I picked it up and was happy that it was a Canada Reads finalist!
Date published: 2017-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from different, but good this book is not the genre I usually gravitate towards but I thought I would give it a read. I am glad I did, I very much enjoyed it
Date published: 2017-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Good! This book! The only thing wrong with it : it's too short! I need more! So well done. Loved all the characters. So, so good. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh.... I read this after getting really excited by seeing sci-fie featured on the Canada Reads competition. It was good and ultimately I enjoyed it, but it suffered from the two great vulnerabilities of science fiction for me: 1) Not always easy to follow, 2) MC not necessarily likable or interesting.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It's alright Not the best sci-fi novel out there, but also not the worst. I was expecting more from a Canada Reads book.
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Read! I thoroughly enjoyed The Company Town!. This book was brought to my attention by the Canada Reads List. I probably would not have noticed it had it not been showcased. I had never read sci-fi before and now I can't get enough! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a story! An excellent addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fasinating and action packed You may think it's YA ish, but this is a novel that can be read by all. I really loved this book! The characters, the plotline, the dialogue were interesting as well as was written with expert pacing and action fueled scenes. I really loved the setting. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Overall, a good and entertaining read I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend and I am glad I did. While it will never become a classic or have a cult-following, it was well done overall. The concepts were well researched and the terminology was appropriate for the theme of the book. The concept was fairly fresh in comparison to other books in the same genre and the names, locations and events have been well researched. It is nice to read a book that is set in a place that is so close to home.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from i read it for Canada reads i tried very hard to enjoy this book but it just didn't entertain or inform me. I like reading books recommended by Canada reads because often the book is not one I would have picked. I find this some times both challenging and stimulating. this book however did not fit the bill
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun read! I picked this up because it was on the Canada Reads list. This is a great sci-fi read, a real page turner. I found myself having to slow down and re-read sections because the terminology and concepts were so sci-fi and out of this world that I frankly had no idea what it actually meant, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I think this book would make a great movie!
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Book Candy I was expecting something ver YA and found myself pleasantly surprised. The book itself is Sci-Fi/Dystopian Light and semi YA, but it is an addictive read - like candy for your brain. I found myself unable to put it down, reading over a single day. The main character is infinitely likable, but I found the ending and most of the plot to be a let down - almost an afterthought. I would recommend it as reading on a plane or at the beach, but nothing more.
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This is a great novel, a must read.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good i like it will read it again
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pleasantly surprised! I have not read much dystopian but saw this on the Canada Reads list and thought I'd give it a try. I wasn't sure reading the first page or so but then I found that I didn't want to put it down. Very interesting plot and setting. Very unique characters with interesting chemistry.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Liked it #plumreview. This book was a little slow at the beginning, but it definitely picked up and became more interest and exciting.
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not For Me I’m going to be honest – I struggle with science fiction and YA, and this book is rooted in both. If this was not a Canada Reads contender, I don’t think I would have powered through to the finish line. Though I didn’t love the book’s execution, Ashby is a creative talent with some great ideas, and I enjoyed many elements of the book. Hwa is a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada in a place called New Arcadia, and accompanies the girls to their appointments. Hwa is a a badass – she’s a tough, mixed-race woman, and one of the few fully organic people left in New Arcadia; all other residents have been scientifically “augmented” in some way. Hwa has Sturge-Weber Syndrome, which has left her with a facial birthmark and susceptibility to seizures – she figures since she isn’t beautiful, her parents didn’t bother investing in any augmentations. When New Arcadia is acquired my the Zachariah Lynch, he employs her to train and protect his son, Joel, who has been receiving threats. Coinciding with her change in career, her old friends, all sex-workers, are turning up murdered, and Hwa sets out to find answers. Hwa is great: she’s a a fierce, a fighter, insecure, bold, flawed, and completely likeable. This maybe a stretch, but I felt like Ashby was making a commentary on Canada’s troubling history of missing and murdered women – I don’t know if this was her intent, but I imagine that it must have crossed her mind when writing a story about the murder of women in the sex-trade. This book seemed to suffer from an identity crisis, and that is part of my low rating. This felt like a YA book that just happened to be about adult content. All of the dialogue and many of the scenarios read like YA, making it very disconcerting to read about “sex-workers” and murder. It simply lacked a clear direction – I understand and respect the story Ashby wanted to tell, but wasn’t impressed with its execution.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Action packed, female lead Action packed page turner with a tough female lead and a Newfoundland accent :) The book has an interesting underlying theme - what does it mean to be human? When everyone has modifications, where do you draw the line between human and machine? I enjoyed this book from start to finish, and I'm looking forward to reading more work by the author.
Date published: 2017-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Enjoyed the plot, the characters, and the suspense.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Company Town I don't know how to say this without feeling like a traitor to bookworms everywhere, but I think I would enjoy Company Town more as a tv show than a book. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the writing itself. Company Town has a fantastic story, a gripping plot, a compelling exploration of social issues, and a wonderful cast of characters (including the most kickass heroine I've read in awhile). It just so happens that the vast majority of the time, I would rather watch sci-fi than read it, and everything that I love about Company Town makes me feel that even more. So, I guess that's the big disclaimer about my opinion of the book -- I liked it so much that it made me want to experience it in an alternative format. That makes no logical sense, but let's just go with it. The things I love about this story include: 1. The union aspect. Admittedly, my experience with sci-fi books is limited (see: would rather watch a screen adaptation), but I haven't read much that involves labour relations. 2. It's not just labour relations -- this book also tackles environmentalism, corporate greed, sex work, privacy, bodily autonomy, and more. For such an intense book, this has an incredible amount of relevance to daily life today. 3. The diversity. This book has some pretty impressive representation for marginalized groups, including people of colour and people with disabilities. Sci-fi tv has a pretty big issue with character diversity, so this was refreshing to see. 4. Hwa. I don't always enjoy main characters with a brutal side, but oh my goodness, I love her. 5. This is a small thing, but I also adore the optometrist. The whole time I was reading Company Town, I was thinking about quotes I've read where people talk about how ridiculous it is that when you're looking at sci-fi and fantasy -- genres with limitless potential -- stories seem to fall into the same tired stereotypes and tropes, plots seem subject to current social standards and biases. And why does that happen? Why can we envision a world with space travel but not a main character of colour? Why can we accept elves and orcs but not LGBT elves and orcs? I feel like Company Town is if not a direct answer to that, then a solution, something that I'll recommend the next time someone asks for a sci-fi recommendation. So, I guess that's where I stand on Company Town. There is so much that I love about the book, and there is so much that feel very needed. As far as personal enjoyment goes, I don't think this was the book for me, emphasis on book. Because wow, if there is ever some kind of gritty screen adaptation, I will be all. over. it.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldnt Put down amazing book, couldn't put it down a great read
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Futuristic sci-fi cloaked in mystery and corporate lies I loved this book. I say this quite often, but this time I really mean it. It’s brilliant, intelligent and deals with very relevant and current themes. And to see this come out of Canada is amazing. We have some great authors here in Canada, and I’m really happy to have discovered this author through Canada Reads. For those of you who aren’t aware, Canada Reads is a battle between five books from March 27-30, 2017. Five Canadian celebrities defend a Canadian new release and there can only be one winner. I really hope Tamara Taylor (actress on Bones) defends Madeline Ashby’s book for the win. 'Company Town' really deserves it. The novel is set in the near future, on the eastern coast of Canada, where a group of oil rigs have been transformed into a floating city in the Atlantic ocean. Bioengineered genetic enhancements are the norm in this future and very few people have no enhancements. One of those people is Hwa, a high school drop out, working as body guard for sex workers on the rig. Her lack of enhancements is not by choice but more out of lack of funds. When Lynch Ltd., the new owner of the city, offers her a new cushiony job, she’s hesitant to leave her post, since so many of the sex workers are also her friends. But she’s perfect for the job of protecting Lynch’s heir, since without enhancements, she can’t be hacked by an outside threat. I love the way we are introduced into this new, technologically rich environment. It gives you the impression that nothing is private, that someone is always monitoring you though technology. I’ll admit, it was very hard to understand the technology at first, and since the author relies heavily on the technology to tell her story, you really have to read the first few chapters slowly. The author assumes the reader knows about the technology, relying on the reader’s intelligence and imagination to extrapolate. It makes you consider how much we rely on technology, even today. It also makes you wonder how much more technology we will surround ourselves with in the future. Personally, as an optometrist, I rely heavily on technology to do my job, but I admit, I also love my gadgets like my smart phone and my smart watch. (On a side note, the protagonist Hwa suffers from Sturge-Weber Syndrome and one of the possible complications include glaucoma, an eye disease, so I really appreciated those little details in the book, especially the artificial intelligence/robotic eye doctor. However, I highly doubt I’ll be replaced by a robot, any time soon.) 'Company Town' is a high paced murder mystery that transforms into a very conspiracy charged novel. Sex workers are the easy target for murder, and now that Hwa works for the company that owns the floating city, she takes advantage of her new access to classified information to investigate the death of her friends. She also gains the help of her new boss, Daniel Síofra, who works for the Lynch family and their business. Together, the unlikely pair form a strange bond, which makes you wonder if their professional relationship could ever turn into a personal one. They seem to care for one another, but with Hwa’s condition comes a large purple “stain” on her face and insecurity about her physical appearance. Daniel has received so many bioengineered alterations to his appearance that Hwa considers him to good for her. Hwa questions everything, from Daniel’s implication in the Lynch business, to Lynch’s ultimate goal for the city, to conspiracy theories about the explosions that killed so many on an oil rig a few years back. The more Hwa investigates the murders, the more questions arise. The futuristic elements, the human connections and the smart plot makes this book an unforgettable read. I really hope it wins the Canada Reads competition, but even if it doesn’t, I’m glad I discovered it through its promotion. I’m definitely reading more Madeline Ashby books in the future. I love her style and the amount of work she put in creating this futuristic world. I strongly recommend this book to any fans of the genre.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it #plumrewards. A riveting read
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! My book club decided on Company Town and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Finished it in 2 days! There's a lot going on, but it's well written and I never felt lost. Hwa is a well developed and interesting character, as are many of the others. I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I'm sure glad I gave this one a chance!
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loves this! Amazing book, great quality, and the content was simply wonderful
Date published: 2017-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite the ride! What an awesome and refreshing pick for Canada Reads! Read it in 2 days! Hwa is such a breath of fresh air and she's the tough fighter you can't help but root for. She's blunt, hilarious, and REAL. And then there's the brilliant combination of Ashby's fast paced story with the intricate landscape of New Arcadia that makes Company Town a great book for talking about the realities of the sex worker industry, urban environmentalism, and corporate responsibility.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A unique book with a powerful cast of characters. Review Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy: I feel like COMPANY TOWN snuck up on me; at first I was reading a pretty good dystopian-type novel, and then BAM, it turned into a fabulous, terrifyingly too-close-for-comfort near scifi with interesting new concepts and amazingly real characters. Hwa, who was named after a purple dessert her mom hates, has Sturge-Weber Syndrome, which shows up as a purple-red birthmark on her face. She’s not too worried about it though, since most people have implants in their eyes and can’t see her real face anyway. It also helps her in her job as a bodyguard, since her face naturally confuses facial recognition software. In a hyper-monitored city, she is one of the only people who is difficult to track 24/7. Hwa is charming. She is quiet, strong, and since she never had any money to spend on implants (and her mom never thought it was worth spending what little money they had on damaged goods), she is the last non-modified person on the rig. She is seen by most of the other characters as a freak because of it, but to her new employers, it means she can’t be hacked. Who better to protect the most important child around, the heir to the Lynch family, who have just bought the failing rig. A lot of the scifi is subtle, but still effective and fun. The subscription-based implants were particularly scary: if you fail to pay your subscription, your implants might stop working. They might also start breaking down and poison you. Black market implants are often copies of copies, like a man-made wrongly-replicated cancer. The different characters with their different mods and implants, really added to the diversity of the city and outlined the massive class divide in the city. Hwa leaves her job as a bodyguard for escorts to work for the richest family in the city. Reconciling these two worlds is not easy and it was super interesting to read. My only issue with the book was just how much stuff was going on. Between the social classes, the serial-killer, the future and past of the rig and the complex characters, this is not a book you want to read while something is on the tv. Still, if you have the time to immerse yourself fully, this is a unique book with a powerful cast of characters.
Date published: 2016-05-27

Editorial Reviews

"A thrilling near-future noir mystery....A fascinating book from a writer with great vision." -Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse Novels series"Smart, weird dystopia." -Margaret Atwood"The skill with which Ashby introduces her various SF elements is worthy of the best Heinlein.... Company Town never falters in its pacing. It's a terrific ride." -Locus "This is brave, bold, crazy storytelling at the edge and doesn't read like anything else I've seen up or down the pike." -Chuck Wendig, New York Times bestselling author of Aftermath "A brilliant and chilling look at our post-oil future. I haven't been this hooked by an SF novel for ages." -Charles Stross, author of the Laundry Files series "Loved Company Town, Madeline Ashby's wonderfully imaginative new sci-fi mystery with a fascinating female protagonist." -Feminist Frequency "The world is an updated version of Raymond Chandler's, with gray morals and broken characters, and Hwa's internal monologue has just the right balance of introspection and wit...[a] very solid page-turner." -Publishers Weekly "A fascinating mix of detective noir and near-future SF with cinematic world building and a broken, but resilient, unquestionably badass heroine." -Booklist"Ashby's action scenes come thick and fast...the ideas, setting and relationships that make the story really worth reading." -New Zealand Herald