A dystopian yarn about survival in a world where big government rules absolutely everything.
Texas-based author and retired banker Pearson (Deception, 2016, etc.) has crafted a compact thrill ride that incorporates themes of governmental authoritarianism, oppression, and organized resistance. Just a short while after the election of a leader whom people call “the Socialist,” who delivered solemn promises of wage equality and economic stability, the nation began suffering under the rule of a dictatorship. The administration begins to make the citizens of former bustling metropolis Prosper uneasy with involuntary surveillance, “punitive taxation,” pricing controls, and an Internal Security Bureau terrorizing local businesses with tactics designed to keep the city under its thumb. More immediate is the fact that people are randomly disappearing, which has the locals angry and desperate for answers; at the same time, the government explores the idea of creating an army of infallible, microchipped soldiers. Meanwhile, Brent Stevens, a scientist at Pure Research, has been demoted to assembly-line manager after the government seizes the business. Frustrated, he begins to stealthily assemble his own resistance movement, which the author details with increasing levels of suspense and introspective characterization. When his internet-savvy friend Rob Taub goes missing after being attacked by Internal Security Bureau henchmen, his wife, Lori, vows revenge—although things get messy when Brent admits his secret love for her. Brent is drawn as a powerful, resilient hero, and he ably carries this brief novel through aggressively violent confrontations and politically charged intrigue. However, his immediate assumption of Lori’s affections after Rob goes missing seems implausible, and his own wife, Beth, disappears without explanation. Nevertheless, Pearson has a knack for swift action and his storyline involving everyday citizens versus an evil bureaucracy offers a powerful hook, and it’s particularly notable that he accomplishes it all in relatively few pages. Readers will also surely draw correlations between this narrative and the ongoing Capitol Hill upheaval following the last presidential election.
A relatable, if flawed, thriller that’s soberingly reflective.