“Good Girl” by Malinda Lo is a short story contained in the collection Diverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell & Joe Monti. It’s a dystopian collection, and I can never resist dystopian stories. Add in that there’s a lesbian story by a known author, and I couldn’t resist! In dystopians, I feel like the world is the most important character, so I tend to focus on that. It takes most of the story for the background to be revealed, so I’m marking it as spoilers.
[spoilers] “Good Girl” takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where most of the US (world?) is completely unlivable, except for pockets that are protected in sealed domes, waiting generations for the world to be habitable again. Inside the dome the main character, Kyle, lives in (New York?), the government strictly controls people’s lives (think The Giver). The government has also instituted eugenics, claiming that mixed-race children are diseased and die. Kyle knows that she and her brother are mixed race, though she passes as “pure” Asian. When her brother disappears, she goes into the underbelly of the city, “the Tunnels”, to try to find him. Instead, she finds herself falling for one of these “mutts”, a girl named Nix, who has a tattooed shaved head.
In some ways, it reminded me of Shadow Swans in that there is a semi-secret society of outcasts living under the city, and that a “good girl” finds herself sucked into it, but where Ruby is a bored rich person, Kyle is living in her own dystopia above ground. [end spoilers] I thought the story was well-written and plotted well. It could very easily be its own novel, and I am really intrigued by the world. I would love to know more about the government and its history of eugenics, and about whether the other cities have a similar system or are entirely different. I would even love a story that took place after they first could walk out on the world again, and what it would look like when these isolated communities came back together. Not to mention that I would love to know what takes place after the end of this story with Kyle or Nix! I highly recommend this one, especially if you’re a dystopia fan.