A contender for the best book I’ve read in 2021, and unexpectedly so. I thought it was going to be horror — more to the point, extreme horror. Instead I was treated to a dystopian nightmare where cancel culture and “defund the police” were taken to their absurd extremes.
In this one, ex-hockey player Alex Malone is suffering from brain trauma from his playing days while fighting addiction and alcoholism. After his rehab, he gets a job with the police force as a cop. It’s a dead-end job, one where he is abused and disrespected. His job is reduced to checking permits and licenses at various business establishments as he fights through CTE-induced episodes of rage and blinding headaches. He’d end it all if he could figure out a way to do so, but in this new society with regulations and safeguards at every turn, it isn’t easy.
After an experimental treatment for his CTE, he begins remembering stuff – but they’re not his memories. And they aren’t pleasant. He’s remembering the torture and murder of “super-seniors,” a forgotten generation suffering from diseases of the brain. After meeting a compassionate nurse and a social media star, he investigates, and, well, the truth is more shocking than he thought possible.
This book made me think in a way that few books have. It made me reconsider my own beliefs and positions, because I generally fall on the side represented by the extremes in this book. And that’s what great stories should do – make you think and question…something. Did I change my mind based on anything in this vision of the future? Not really, because as I said, the story takes it to absurd extremes. But still, it forced me to think about these issues and that makes it a great book in my view. (Take a look at Dan Simmons’ FLASHBACK, a book with a similar take on the positions of the so-called “left.”)
Ms. Leitner can flat out write, and that doesn’t hurt in making this a five star read for me. She creates well-drawn characters so well that I was trying to picture the actors and actresses who would play them in the movie version. She made Pittsburgh, a place I’ve never visited, come to life to a point where I could visualize the buildings and the streets. And she does this while never once pulling me out of the story with poor writing or poor editing.
I’ve written a lot of post-apocalyptic stories (none yet published) and this is the level of quality I strive for. Well done! (not exactly a mini-review but hey, I was excited about this story.) I’ll be reading Lucy Leitner‘s next book, and her previous book. She has me as a fan as long as she keeps writing and telling stories like this.