Book Review: Killing Adam by Earik Beann

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Killing Adam is a science-fiction dystopian novel by Earik Beann.

It is set in a futuristic world in which people are controlled by Altered Reality Chips. ARCS are implants placed behind the ear which allow people to go online for long periods of time and forget the banality of real life. However, behind this technological marvel is a computer singularity – Adam. Adam controls and lives within every brain and monitors every aspect of society, and he must be stopped.

my-image-killing-adam

Killing Adam is a standard but enjoyable piece of science-fiction that fits into the science-fiction and dystopian genres well.

Earik Beann’s creative imagining of what futuristic technology may look like was interesting –  particularly his idea that characters use these ARCs to, quite literally, escape reality.  It was sad that they constantly and willingly plugged themselves into alternate worlds, creating fictions for themselves,leaving their families behind and causing face-to-face relationships to crumble away.

The main character of Killing Adam is Jimmy Mahoney, a fairly ordinary man, who suffers as an outsider in this new futuristic world. Due to a brain injury, Jimmy’s body is unable to accept an ARC. Subsequently, he is excluded from the fantastical online realities that everyone else experiences. However, this means he is not under the mind-controlling influence of Adam. This means Jimmy has a chance. Adam could be destroyed.

For me, it was slightly difficult to understand exactly what or who Adam is. The book describes him as a singularity, which – I think – means he is a form of computerised consciousness. I could be wrong though – I struggled to fully understand the explanations the book provided.

Although I may not understand Adam, his character was fascinating. Adam is a powerful antagonist who uses mind manipulation and cruel, callous language to get what he wants. I thought the characterisation of Adam was particularly impressive, in light of the fact he only ever communicates through other characters’ thoughts and yet I still had a firm impression of Adam’s attitudes and personality traits.

The ending to Killing Adam was fairly standard; it tidies some loose ends but leaves room for a possible sequel, should Earik Beann decide to turn this into a series.

Killing Adam was an enjoyable science-fiction read.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Killing Adam is available to buy as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

Advertisements

Book Review: The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman

Crime Is Over.

The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman is partly science fiction, partly dystopian, and partly crime thriller.

A community known as The Children of Christ is shocked when a series of sexual attacks and murders are uncovered in the heart of the town. The Children of Christ is home to seemingly pure, religious folk as well as surgically reformed criminals – Subjugates – who are repurposed as servants, known as Serenes. They have been surgically altered to have their sinful tendencies and violent behaviours removed. The question is: who then, is responsible for these attacks? Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitchel Grenville work to find and stop the serial killer before another victim is claimed.

My Photo [The Subjugate]

I really enjoyed reading The Subjugate. The settings and descriptions were completely immersive – the world created is both futuristic and realistic, drawing on motifs used in other dystopian and science fiction novels as well as describing things I could see happening.

The futuristic technology is well-explained; explanations weren’t overly lengthy or complicated so everything was easy to understand. I liked the irony that the characters’ dependency on technology wasn’t too far-fetched at all from today’s society. This grounded the novel in some realism, so that some of the more advanced technology didn’t seem too unimaginable. Mobile phones and watches with an increasing range of capabilities? Cars that can drive themselves? Check and check.

Whilst I enjoyed the representation of technology, I wonder whether the representation of religion – that is, Christianity, was slightly too harsh. For example, some characters were described in a negative way, simply because the protagonists learn they hold Christian beliefs. Now, I don’t mind dystopian or warped religious beliefs, such as those featured in The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World. These representations can provide interesting commentaries as well as entertainment. I just felt that the community in The Subjugate was judged immediately and negatively by the protagonists just because it was a religious town, which didn’t seem quite fair.

Nevertheless, I found the book interesting in a few different ways. For example, the fact that the government is focused on rehabilitating and releasing even the most violent criminals into the world again, through the sinister use of lobotomies and experiments to modify behaviour and character traits was a fascinating, though horrifying, prospect.

Control over the human body and the mind is such a huge motif in science fiction or dystopian novels.  In A Clockwork Orange, doctors want to control and prevent Alex’s criminal tendencies by therapy akin to torture. In Brave New World, the government want to control and condition people to submit to the life to which they have been genetically assigned. In 1984, Big Brother wants control over what people say or think or do. In The Handmaid’s Tale, women lose control of their relationships, bodies, and potential children. The desire for omnipotent control over the human race is eerily present across all these novels, including The Subjugate.

Amanda Bridgeman’s effective use of this motif is not only entertaining, but prompts some interesting questions:

  • Would it be better to strip people of their free will, forcing them to be good?

or

  • Would it be better to allow people their free will, giving them the right to choose to be bad?

If you want to answer these questions, you’ll have have to read the book for yourself!

The Subjugate was an enjoyable read that blends a number of different genres really well; it’s perfect for fans of science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, or crime thrillers.

It had some fun plot twists, and I found myself engrossed in finding out what happened next – I read the entire thing in just a few days! The ending tied things up well, and I liked that the culprit wasn’t immediately obvious as there were a few different suspects.

I wouldn’t mind at all if Amanda Bridgeman chose to write a sequel to The Subjugate – either with the same characters or different ones – set in the same world, because I’m certainly interested in learning more about the futuristic world she’s created!

The Subjugate will be available to buy as an e-book or paperback from the 1st of November in the UK, and the 6th of November in the US and Canada. Many thanks to Angry Robot Publishing for providing me with a free copy!

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

– Judith

Halloween Book Review: The Collector

This isn’t a Gothic horror novel, but a fantastic thriller nonetheless.

The Collector is the debut novel by John Fowles, published in 1963. It is about a lonely young man called Frederick Clegg, who works as a clerk and collects butterflies in his spare time. Frederick becomes enamoured with Miranda Grey, a middle-class art student. He admires her and almost loves her, yet knows he can never speak to her because of their class differences and his undeveloped social skills. Subsequently, Frederick decides he will “collect” Miranda, hoping that if he keeps her captive long enough, she will grow to love him.

How dark a plot is that?

According to Anthony Magistrale, a critic who has written several books on the work of Stephen King, The Collector was ‘clearly King’s primary influence’ on his novel Misery,* a psychological thriller published in 1987. (Anthony Magistrale, The Moral Voyages of Stephen King (Mercer Island, Starmont House, 1989), page 113)

Misery just so happens to be my favourite Stephen King novel (at the moment) so I thought I would try The Collector.

I loved it – I’d certainly read again.

It’s easy to spot the similarities between the two novels: a crazed protagonist / antagonist who loves someone obsessively enough to keep them captive, yet (somewhat) cared for.

Frederick is a sympathetic character, though his mental instabilities also make him serious and dangerous. In Misery, Paul learns to befriend his captor, Annie Wilkes, and treat her with sensitivity and care to ensure he is as well-treated as possible (though the success of this strategy is arguable).

In The Collector, Miranda is outraged, harsh, and mocking towards Frederick. Whilst this is a completely understandable reaction from the victim of an abduction, it’s difficult, due to Frederick’s narration, not to see this as quite sad; it confirms to Frederick his fear that Miranda would never even give him the time of day if he plucked up the courage to say hello in public. Having said that, I was not hoping for a Miranda / Frederick love story!

Miranda is clearly a victim. She is frightened, lonely, and tries to escape multiple times. However, I found it harder to sympathise with her as her narrative perspective was only introduced halfway through the book. This split narrative perspective is something Misery lacks. We only ever hear Paul’s side of the story so, naturally, Annie is represented as crazy and dangerous and is never presented as anything other than that. By switching between Frederick and Miranda’s perspectives, it  becomes harder to like or dislike either character, and neither characters’ motivations and actions are clearly established as good or bad.

The parallel between Frederick’s butterfly collection and his “collection” of Miranda is fantastic; Frederick wants to collect things for their beauty, so he can love and appreciate them in his own way. Yet, the very act of collecting a butterfly causes them harm, damages their body and beauty, and ultimately causes their death. This is why I found the book so dark, but utterly and enjoyably enthralling.

I thought it was interesting that the novel was tinged with sadness and tragedy throughout, unlike than blatant fear and horror conveyed constantly in Misery.

I’d recommend both books as gripping and thrilling reads!

– Judith