I'm trying to find a book that a friend of mine read. He does not know the title nor the author's name. Here is how he described it:

It was a dystopian society where I guess the poor live underground, and the rich used a machine or something to be able to mind/body swap with them and experience their life that way. Anyway, I guess someone uses this to commit a murder, so the poor person whose body was used to do this tries to find out who committed the murder.

  • When did your friend read this book? Was it old or new by then? Any information helps. – Klaus Æ. Mogensen Jan 25 at 8:48
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    @KlausÆ.Mogensen He read it about 5 or six years ago. He thinks it might have been an older book based on some of the dialogue. I guess they said things like "Hear ye, hear ye!" I wish I had more information but he himself doesn't remember much. It was a book he read while he was in jail. – Zaida Jan 25 at 12:08
  • I've read that same book. Its set in Manhattan (I think) and the rich people have built a whole second city on top of the exisiting city. The poor live underneath, in old Manhattan. The main character volunteers to act as a host body for some rich schlub who wants to slum it without risking his own body. The hose gets paid a ridiculous amount of money if he survives. The rich guy commits murder while in the host body, and the poor guy is left to pick up rhe pieces. – Zeroisplural Jan 31 at 16:06
  • I also cannot remember what its called. I could have sworn it was called The Host but all I can find buy that title is by Stephanie Meyer and thats not it. I read it when I was a young teenager, and im in the 30s now, so its kinda old. – Zeroisplural Jan 31 at 16:06
  • @Zeroisplural I feel like that is totally the book! It's a shame you can't remember the name either. But you did give me a little more information to go on, so if I find it, I;ll let you know. The only other thing my friend could remember is that there might be a sequel with either the word dagger or sword in the title. – Zaida Feb 1 at 1:45

Could be Levels: The Host by Peter R Emshwiller, first published in 1991.

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Synopsis from fantasticfiction.com:

In the near-future country of Manhattan the poor First-Levelers barely survive on the old streets, sealed beneath a fifth-story ceiling. Far above in the sunlight, rich Second-Levelers thrive in boring opulence. They get their kicks by projecting their minds into the bodies of First-Levelers in an ultra-real game called Hosting. Desperate to earn enough cash to have a child, First Leveler Watly Caiper becomes a Host. But instead of using his body for sordid fun, the anonymous Second-Level Donor commits the perfect crime. On the run from the police and on the hook for murder, Watly must find the mysterious killer before time runs out. Originally published by Bantam Spectra as The Host, this is the 25th Anniversary edition of the cyberpunk classic.

  • @VexenFox That's gotta be it! Thanks so much, I was really doing whatever I could to find it. My friend is going to be thrilled when I tell him. – Zaida Feb 8 at 17:29

Could this be Starters (2012) by Lissa Price...?

A synopsis from BookTrust:

Callie and her little brother exist in a futuristic world in which chemical warfare has killed everyone aged between 20 and 60 years old. Only the elderly (Enders) and the very young (Starters) have survived.

While grandchildren of rich Enders live in luxury, young orphans like Callie are forced to eke out an existence as starving squatters in deserted buildings - and if they are caught, they will find themselves condemned to an Institution.

But the Body Bank offers a promise of much-needed cash - Prime Destinations pays the teenage Starters to rent out their bodies to wealthy Enders, giving them a chance to experience being young again. Yet for Callie, this chance to quickly raise some money soon becomes even more sinister when she discovers her renter intends to use her body to commit a murder.

This bleak dystopian novel makes a compelling read, grabbing the reader's attention from the first page. Although this story reaches a satisfying conclusion, a sequel is also anticipated.

Cover of "Starters" by Lissa Price. The tagline is "Survival is just the beginning". The title and tagline are in blue. The cover shows a girl's face, colored entirely white (including hair), except for her bright blue irises. Behind the girl is a white circuit-board background.

  • No I don't think that's it. I think the main character is male. Also, from what I remember, the poor live in sort of an underground dome or something like that. – Zaida Jan 23 at 19:59

Could this be A Plague of Pythons (1962) by Frederik Pohl?

Chandler is an electronics engineer who is on trial for rape and murder. He claims to have been possessed while committing the crime, but nobody believes him because it took place in a pharmaceuticals plant.

The possession is actually caused by

humans using "millimeter waves"

  • I don't think it is that one; I came across that title while trying to find the book myself and it doesn't seem to be it. I believe he said that people participated in the mind/body swap. But my friend read this like 5 years ago, the details could be fuzzy. – Zaida Jan 24 at 22:02

There are places in the Shadowrun RPG setting where using implanted cybernetics to allow the wealthy to use your body is a common career - and people getting kidnapped and used for this purpose without their consent isn't unheard of, either. Different places have different laws about it - generally where the line gets drawn as what they can do with your body while they're in control - but it's altogether creepy to think about, especially since we've recently seen an announcement that a brain-computer implantable interface is going into development.

(I'm making this answer for completeness's sake, although I realize this is not likely to be the book/series you're looking for - but it's an interesting and uncommon trope and hopefully someone reading your question can appreciate the contribution.)

  • There are multiple editions of Shadowrun. Does this apply to all of them? – FuzzyBoots Jan 24 at 13:59
  • @FuzzyBoots I believe only the ones that have a Wireless Matrix - I think most recently read it in 5th Edition, but I'm fairly sure it existed in 4th. Since each edition has been less well-written than the last, and my group found 5e to be unplayable as written, I haven't looked into 6th at all, but I'd be surprised if it didn't come up at some point. – gatherer818 Jan 24 at 18:35

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