Hyde plants all sorts of IEDs in her first novel, shattering her protagonist’s heart, the streets of a decidedly un-United States and, especially, our fragile planetary ecosystem. This is cli-fi even when it turns intimate, with the first kiss between lovers or the failures of addict parents. Individual tensions generate unexpected crackle, but everyone’s caught in the same toxic knots, their environment collapsing around them. The upshot is a first novel way outside the norms: a work of imagination rather than autobiography ... She’s always jangling the nerves, even when the focus shifts to the psyche ... dystopias of the past and the future that together cast a chilling shadow over our present ... That last imaginative leap is one of Hyde’s most spectacular, but if you ask me, her act only falters in its portrayal of the Camp founder, a standard-model megalomaniac. The rest of the secondary cast, however, all enjoy moments of subtlety, and overall Eleutheria achieves a remarkable humanity for a work that sets off global alarms. Hyde knows her title comes from the Greek word for “freedom,” and knows as well that few concepts have been so perverted, so polluted. That maddening paradox enlivens everything here, 'caught in the slipstream of idealism and exploitation, the secret crux of the Americas.'
... very much a novel of ideas, taking up social movements, the survival of ecosystems, questions of morality when faced with scarcity, local versus global needs ... But for all its theoretical concerns, the novel spends little time in the abstract. It’s tactile in a number of ways. With the imprint of human movement and activity on the planet. With Willa’s language, sticky in its descriptions.
Fast-paced and dramatic, Eleutheria is a love story that plays out against the backdrop of a planet in trouble. Hyde, author of the award-winning story collection Of This New World, offers many twists and shocks throughout her first novel, delivering an eerie prophecy of a not-so-distant future if we continue our inaction toward climate change.