4 of 5 stars
bookshelves: dystopian, political-science, espionage, to-read-2014, science-fiction, favorites
Recommended for: Fans of the dystopian genre
Read from November 30 to December 18, 2014 — I own a copy, read count: 1
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
“There it is—a blue marble in the blackness of space, sweeps of white fuzzing the spherical surface, so small you can put your thumb over it and blip it out of existence. The Earth, suspended in the darkness, silent and fragile. But this is deception. It’s moving very fast, and just because you can’t see and feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not the truth.”
Imagine a world where insect-like drones rule the air, watching our every move, and presumably reporting them to Big Brother. Where the U.S. government has become a totalitarian state, systematically re-structuring how we live, what we think, feel and taste, practically. It isn’t very hard to imagine, is it? And what if our freedoms are being taken, stomped upon violently, never to be felt again, like a repressed memory or an ancient civilization.
And one that isn’t singular, either, but a duality of worlds?
Can you imagine it?
Roderick Vincent takes these worlds and plops his hacker protagonist, Isse “Cerberus” Corvus (along with the reader,) directly into it. And it wasn’t too long before I realized that I’d fallen under his impressive world-building skills. Skills that became increasingly evident throughout.
Almost as compelling was the gradual development of Cerberus, and a couple other supporting characters.
Isse comes from a lower-middle class African-American family, struggling (like so many of us) in the wake of a broken and sad economy. As a child, he was bookish and dreamt of space, exploring the infinite reaches of the universe.
But “the future is Turbulence.”
Albeit somewhat choppy, the sentence structure in the novel’s initial stages served to propel itself both forward and backward, but overall it remained steadily in the present. And those few flashbacks are important. All of this works well, too, as nothing uninteresting or irrelevant is dwelled upon. This not only moves the plot forward in a relatively brief duration, it informs the reader of Vincent’s all too plausible dystopian world, but also helps give you a better sense of the characters…which felt kind of detached at first. Isse, in particular, felt almost numb to his surroundings.
The Abattoir training comprises more than half of the novel. A part of me wants to say it was a little too much, that the author could have summarized their training further, but once again, everything is germane. Little to zero words are wasted from this point until the final page. More to the point though, the Abattoir consists of roughly 365 days, a non-stop year of change, brutal scenarios with some shocking outcomes, philosophical intrigue, action/adventure, and much more.
In hindsight, I really wouldn’t change a thing.
The future is Turbulence
Also in this section, we see glimpses of NSA Director Titus Montgomery, but only through inexplicable, real-time footage shown to Isse and Co., the remains of which eventually become known as The Cause.
But what exactly are their motives? Are they genuinely patriotic, and what does that term really mean? Or are they unknowingly being trained to become some sort of terrorist cell? These are only a few of the questions that Vincent seems to be demanding of his readers, and he does it in a way that isn’t didactic, yet an integral part of the story. Even now, there’s a sense of lingering doubt, both for and against, and that-to me– speaks volumes. I know which way I want it to go, but as the series progresses, I think it can still go either way.
Titus isn’t “officially” introduced until the second-half of the novel, and while I wish he had been seen working behind the scenes, earlier on, what Vincent delivers is quite good. The dynamics of his personal relations was downright fascinating, despite its disturbing nature. He has flaws just like the rest of us, thus making him more human. His flaws are not necessarily right nor wrong, but part of what makes him such a well-rounded character. And I suppose it’s even possible to justify some of his actions. He certainly believes in what’s he’s doing as right.
I am really looking forward to delving deeper into his character in Book 2 (hint hint, Rick.)
By the end of this exciting thriller, I no longer felt detached from the characters. Especially Cerberus, whom I clearly visualized physically, felt emotionally adhered to, and the intonation of his voice was like an audible clip in my head. Furthermore, I want to know -no, it’s a NEED– more about him.
I think much of Vincent’s strength derives from the fact that he’s obviously very well-read, his inspiration ranging from George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, to Lord of the Flies, The Call of the Wild, and possibly as far reaching as The Art of War.
Up until the last 50 or so pages, the author still had me guessing, speculating a plethora of possible outcomes. When he revealed the means of The Cause and just how far they were willing to go in order to make their point clear, my jaw literally dropped. I couldn’t believe it. And I couldn’t have been happier (or more proud.) The ending is just CRAZY!
The future is Turbulence
Thank you, again, for this delightful opportunity, Rick!