As you can probably guess, the year is 2103 and it has been just over 50 years since the second American Civil War. However, this civil war left the USA in 3 separate pieces. This book, Act I, takes place in one of those three – the American Union. Martial law is the usual law with anyone who shares an opinion that is contrary to the government’s is labeled an Outlier. Death usually follows shortly after the label is affixed.
With plenty of suspense and no little amount of action, Avera leads us through this future America in grisly fashion. There’s sorrow, death, selfishness, madness, greed for power, and no little amount of anger. President Caleb Fulton rules everyone and everything with an iron fist, including his actor persona, a man names Stephen he hired to play himself for the public eye. Being wheelchair bound and suffering from a disfiguring illness, he knew the American people would never have elected him president; hence the subterfuge. Stephen and his family live under constant threat from the real Fulton and his shadow administration.
Throughout the book, we see many different viewpoints. As with Reich, everyone is a hero in their own head and this is an aspect I really enjoyed about the book. Some justify their actions more than others. Some simply assume they are a good person, hence all their actions must be the right actions. A few of the characters I thoroughly enjoyed hating on (the real Fulton and this other psycho who I won’t name so as to avoid spoilers) while other characters I could completely sympathize with even though I disagreed with some of their actions (such as the priest). It made for dynamic reading.
My one criticism concerns the female characters. They are love interests, wives, or sex objects. None of them stand alone as an individual character. Rather they are something the men must take care of, rescue, or use in some way. Needless to say, I found their characters to be the least interesting of the story.
This tale has an underlying cautionary note, as did Reich, concerning power unchecked and allowed to blossom (inevitably?) into a brutal tyranny draped in bureaucracy that punishes all but those at the pinnacle of power. Plenty of questions were left open ended for the reader to ponder, and also for a sequel. I hope there is a sequel. After all, not all the bad guys met their deserved end.
Narration: Over all, the narration was good. each character had a distinct voice, the female voices were believable, and the pacing was good. There was one psycho bad guy whose voice I thought was a little over the top, and little too sinister and creepy, so we always knew he was up to no good, but this quickly became apparent and then this creepy voice matched the character’s actions.