The Regional Office exists to protect the world from nefarious attacks. It was created by the superhuman Oyemi and her partner, Mr. Niles. Together, they source oracles to predict future attacks and train teenage girls to become highly skilled assassins. But now the oracles have predicted that someone on the inside wants to bring down the Regional Office, and sure enough, it’s under attack.
It’s kind of a hard book to describe. Imagine elements from Minority Report, Kill Bill, Die Hard, plus a dash of Mean Girls, then sprinkle in some superpowers. On one side is Rose, a hot-headed teenager who is leading the attack. Half of the book is told from her perspective; when the attack happens, she’s in for a nasty surprise and must think on her feet. But she’s also lovestruck with the man who recruited her into becoming an assassin, and the chapters alternate between her troubled past and her present predicament.
Protecting the Regional Office at all costs is Sarah. Her mother was kidnapped when Sarah was a young girl, and Mr. Niles offered Sarah the skills and resources to try to find out what happened. Now Sarah has a cyborg arm with superhuman strength, but it looks just like a human arm. Sarah’s chapters also alternate between past and present; although she looks human, she was shunned and treated like a robot and never really fit in. But that’s no matter now. She just needs to stop the attack and protect Mr. Niles.
The end result is a book that’s really out there. You get prose that sounds very much like it came from teenage girls and a plot that’s way over the top, but it works. It’s cheeky, kind of campy, fun genre fiction that leaves you wondering what the heck is going on. I figured this might be the case — you do encounter some of his sci-fi tendencies in his short story collection, The Miniature Wife — but he really ran with it in his debut novel.
The Regional Office is Under Attack! was released in April 2016 by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.