dystopian fiction

Review of ‘Individutopia’

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In 2084, there is no such thing as society. The cult of the individual reigns supreme. But, for one individual, one day the path to self-discovery reveals itself. Individutopia by Josh Sheldon is a dystopian tale that takes the current obsession with individualism to its ultimate extreme. Most of the world’s wealth is owned by a few individuals—does that ring any bells?—and the individual is allowed earn just enough income to survive, but never to be able to escape the heavy burden of debt. Renee Blanca, the last baby born to two people who actually talked to each other, begins to question her place in the world, and begins to rebel against the many restrictions on those individuals who are mere work units for the benefit of the less than one percent who own everything.

You’ll not miss the parallels with our current existence, and hopefully this book will make you think about the path we’re currently on, and what you, as an individual, can do to restore society to its rightful place.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I have to admit it elicited strong emotions, not all positive—but, not against the author or the story, but the fact that it all rings too true—I still give it five stars. A must read in today’s world! Make sure to get a copy of this one when it’s released.

Review of ‘Reverence’

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The USA has undergone a revolution and is now the United Nation Republic (UNR), with the mission of bringing utopia to the earth, whether or not the other residents of the planet want it. Enforcing this tyrannical scheme is a corps of super soldiers, cyborgs with massive power, and an almost obsessive drive to accomplish their missions. Will Marconi, one of these super soldiers, begins, though, to question his mission, and himself, and rebels against his masters.

Reverence by Joshua Landeros is a fast-paced dystopian future novel with tons of blood and gore that will more than satisfy fans of this genre—a bit too much gore for those with delicate sensibilities, however, and lacking the tight editing that would make it palatable. The plot hangs up in places due to the poor proofreading, but the author shows promise. So, if you like your stories with nonstop action, and a body on almost every page, you just might get into this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, and even though I am a tepid fan of military fiction and an avid science fiction fan, I just couldn’t really get into it. Except for Will, the characters are never really fully developed, and the ‘how’ of the transformation of the US into a world tyrant, even though it does somewhat mirror current political trends, is never adequately explained.

I give the author four stars for effort, but my rating of three stars is due to the execution.

Review of ‘Resist the Machine’

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Clara Spinner is a 16-year-old Compassionate, a resident of the utopian nation of Avantica, half of what was once the United States. Avantica is at war with the Liberty United Democracy, or L.U.D., which is the other half. The two nations are polar opposites. L.U.D. believes in liberty and freedom based on wealth, but wallows in poverty and the immense divide between rich and poor, while Avantica is made up of genetically engineered citizens, each assigned a role in life before being ‘awakened.’ Clara, though, has flaws. She questions her role and status, hates her job, and has to hide these flaws or she will be classified defective and exiled to a certain death.

Resist the Machine by C. D. Verhoff is book one in the dystopian Avant Nation series. It follows Clara as she discovers the reason behind her divergent behavior, and begins to question the very foundations of her way of life. Though set in a distant, and dystopian future, this novel mirrors some of the divisions that currently exist in American politics and culture—exaggerated, but, not by much.
An interesting and intriguing read.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Life is a Beautiful Thing’

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Meme is a human therapist for androids. He’s also a pollution addict. These two things come together when he meets a beautiful android and falls for her, and then finds himself in the crosshairs of a corporate executive who wants him dead.

Harmon Cooper’s Life is a Beautiful Thing is cyberpunk fiction at its grungy best. Part dystopian fiction, part science fiction, and part rant, it will keep you reading and scratching your head. Be warned, though, this book contains strong language and graphic gender groping. If you’re not the overly sensitive type, it will definitely help you get your grove on.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it an unbiased four stars.

Review of ‘Amsterdam 2012’

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Ann Aulis visits Amsterdam with her boyfriend, Peter. All she wants to do is see the Anne Frank Museum. They’re befriended, though, by an outgoing Dutch couple who invite them to stay at their home. They wake up in the morning, though, to find the couple and four other house guests brutally murdered. Ann and Peter flee to London just as Muslim riots erupt in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, but the violence follows them across the channel. Finally able to get a flight back to the U.S., they’re met upon arrival by security agents who take Peter into custody, transporting him to the U.S. confinement facility at Guantanamo Bay. Soon, simmering discontent begins to erupt in the U.S., accompanied by anti-Muslim reactions and economic instability, rocking Ann’s world.

Amsterdam 2012 by Ruth Francisco is dystopian fiction at its scariest. Such stories are usually set in some far future time, but this one takes place in our present day, and while it is fiction, it contains a large enough kernel of possibility, based on real-life events, that it chills the blood.

Francisco has spun a tale that many will write off as pure fantasy, but she’s done it in a manner that will give even skeptics pause. While the probability of such events unfolding are slim, there’s that element of ‘possibility’ that will make you think; could this really happen here?

It has a few typos, but nothing that impedes reading. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Code Breakers: Alpha’

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In a post-apocalyptic world, what’s left of humanity lives in a single domed city run by the shadowy Family. Periodically, the population is culled through the death lottery. All is running smoothly until Jerry Cardle, the man in charge of the lottery finds his name on the list. He discovers that a malevolent artificial intelligence has invaded the city’s systems, which could spell doom for everyone.

With seven days left to live, Cardle must get to the bottom of whatever is going on, but he has to go entirely off the grid to do it.

Code Breakers: Alpha by Colin F. Barnes is a well-written science fiction story of a dystopian future, complete with all the techie bells and whistles one might expect from the genre. In addition, the author does a good job of creating the characters who might inhabit such a dismal future.

Great reading. I give it four of five stars.

Review of ‘In a Right State’

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When Duncan Hartley’s wife Nicole dies and her body parts are put up for auction, he’s curious to see who gets her stomach. He’s curious because an examination of that body part will reveal a serious crime – the growing of fresh vegetables. When Pharma Security, Nicole’s former employer, wins the bid, Hartley is worried, but there’s little he can do, but flee, which he does with the help of another Pharma employee, Amy, a woman who had become disillusioned with her life, and who also happens to have been a friend of Nicole.

If you’re curious at this point, well you should be. This is a completely different kind of story, one that will suck you in like a giant Hoover. I received a free copy of In a Right State by Ben Ellis in exchange for an unbiased review. This is his first novel, but I’ll be sure to check out his next. He has a wicked sense of humor, and it comes through here. This book had be flipping pages with anticipation from the opening paragraph.

A story of a dysfunctional future when corporations are in control, In a Right State also has all the elements of a first-rate mystery/thriller. After reading this, you’re sure to have a few uneasy thoughts about how governments and big corporations relate to each other.

Review of ‘2039’

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In 2014, the United States is perhaps at a crossroads. Extreme partisanship has created what amounts to gridlock in Washington, DC, and the fallout of paranoia from 9/11 continues to threaten our personal liberties. What, you might ask, will the country look like in another quarter century? In 2039, industrialist turned author Martin Shapiro extrapolates the future based on what is happening now.

The story of Jonathan and Ida Kadish, well-to-do Jewish citizens of a United States that has become what amounts to a police state, where personal liberty is a thing of the past, and every aspect of a citizen’s life is controlled by an impersonal, uncaring state bureaucracy. Shapiro paints a dismal picture of a possible future in a gripping story of one family’s desire to live life on their own terms. One doesn’t have to agree with Shapiro to enjoy this story, which is replete with details – many eerily similar to, or projections of, current trends.

A compelling tale of what could happen if you fall into the category of the type of person who ‘wonders what’s happening.’

Four Stars to Shapiro for a work of dystopian fiction that sets a high bar for alternate future novels.

Review of ‘Divergent’

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In a future Chicago, people have decided that it’s not politics or religion that causes war, but personality defects. So, society has sorted itself out into five personality types. They stay firmly segregated, and each is assigned roles depending upon personality, which is chosen through testing when citizens reach the age of 16. It might seem like a utopia, but for those who don’t pass the test for one of the five personality types, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, amity, or Dauntless, the choice is being unclassified and placed on the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder.

When Beatrice Prior, raised in the abnegation class, turns 16, she is tested. Her results are inconclusive, and she’s classed as Divergent. She is faced with a choice – follow the route to freedom and be separated from her family, or remain in her class and be frustrated. Best-selling author Veronica Roth’s Divergent is anything but utopian. Told from Beatrice’s point of view, it shows how rigid classifications can cause the problems they’re supposed to solve, and will have the reader questioning his or her beliefs about how the world works.

Society is laid bare in this suspenseful and exciting work. Roth shows why she’s a New York Times best-seller in this, the first of a trilogy that is dystopian fiction at its best.