Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER

A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL

A futuristic tale that’s heavy on worldbuilding but still races to its inevitably violent conclusion.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Debut author McDermott offers a sweeping dystopian novel about a repressive regime and those who rebel against it.

It’s 2196, and things are not going well for humanity. People either live in a totalitarian society called the Republic or they’re scattered into different sectors of what’s known as the Grey Zone. People in the latter locale don’t have much, and some rely on food aid from the Republic. But at least those who live outside the Republic can enjoy ancient music, including songs by the Rolling Stones (or even Coldplay, if they so choose). More importantly, they don’t have to live in fear of being killed for doing something against the law—such as owning a Holy Bible. The Republic has many other strict rules and plenty of sadistic agents, including Samantha “Slinky” Link, to enforce them. However, even the impressive Slinky can’t stop everyone. Over the course of the book, readers follow a young man in the Republic named Timothy Dawkins as he comes into contact with forbidden knowledge that alters his entire worldview. Meanwhile, out in the Grey Zone, although people are averse to killing, they’re still well stocked with AK-47s—and they’re also getting pretty sick of being pushed around. At more than 900 pages, this adventure is a lengthy one, and some aspects of the tale garner excessive attention. For instance, the official education that Timothy receives goes on for many pages, and although it helps establish for readers just what the Republic is all about, the conversation between the boy and his tutor lends itself to doldrums such as “The fundamental flaw of a democratic society is that it can be infiltrated from within.” Still, as drawn out as some portions of the story may be, it generally maintains momentum. Conflicts are constantly raging both in and out of the Republic, whether they come at the behest of a power-hungry ruler or an alcoholic rebel. Readers will find themselves invested in what happens when the lives of the characters collide.

A futuristic tale that’s heavy on worldbuilding but still races to its inevitably violent conclusion.

Pub Date: March 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-648-75210-3

Page Count: 958

Publisher: Hemisphere Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2020

PROPHET SONG

Captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.

As Ireland devolves into a brutal police state, one woman tries to preserve her family in this stark fable.

For Eilish Stack, a molecular biologist living with her husband and four children in Dublin, life changes all at once and then slowly worsens beyond imagining. Two men appear at her door one night, agents of the new secret police, seeking her husband, Larry, a union official. Soon he is detained under the Emergency Powers Act recently pushed through by the new ruling party, and she cannot contact him. Eilish sees things shifting at work to those backing the ruling party. The state takes control of the press, the judiciary. Her oldest son receives a summons to military duty for the regime, and she tries to send him to Northern Ireland. He elects to join the rebel forces and soon she cannot contact him, either. His name and address appear in a newspaper ad listing people dodging military service. Eilish is coping with her father’s growing dementia, her teenage daughter’s depression, the vandalizing of her car and house. Then war comes to Dublin as the rebel forces close in on the city. Offered a chance to flee the country by her sister in Canada, Eilish can’t abandon hope for her husband’s and son’s returns. Lynch makes every step of this near-future nightmare as plausible as it is horrific by tightly focusing on Eilish, a smart, concerned woman facing terrible choices and losses. An exceptionally gifted writer, Lynch brings a compelling lyricism to her fears and despair while he marshals the details marking the collapse of democracy and the norms of daily life. His tonal control, psychological acuity, empathy, and bleakness recall Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). And Eilish, his strong, resourceful, complete heroine, recalls the title character of Lynch’s excellent Irish-famine novel, Grace (2017).

Captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780802163011

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

Close Quickview