Hey Everyone!! :-)
It's September 18th, so I'm back with my monthly #IndieBooksBeSeen indie author book review! Enjoy! :-)
Subnormal by Stuart Kenyon:
Imagine a world where no one questions authority and everyone complies with even the most egregious violations of basic human rights. The government has absolute control over the people, and even questioning why things are the way they are is enough to make someone "disappear." Scary, right? And yet...not so far-fetched, is it? Looking around the world today, it's not difficult to see how close we are to such a world. And that's the point.
Paul is a young man living in England who has Asperger's syndrome. He's incredibly intelligent and has a prodigious memory, but he doesn't quite fit in with the rest of society. Even so, with just a little support he's able to function in the world, and is even pursuing higher education. Then, when a devastating loss leads to a relatively minor incident, Paul is ripped away from his life, given a classification of "subnormal," and locked away with other people who didn't fit into the government's vision of a utopian society for one reason or another.
What's worse, not all of those people even realize how badly they've been treated. But when people start to wake up, Paul and his friends are ready to lead an uprising. Unfortunately, the entire government is against them and it's hard to fight when even talking about resistance is a crime. It's up to Paul and a handful of other "subnormals" to find a way to push back the tide of authoritarianism and save their country.
I loved this book for a number of reasons. First, I think the author did an outstanding job of developing the characters into individual people who I felt like I really got to know and like or dislike. I also think Mr. Kenyon did a good job of presenting Asperger's syndrome and autism as complex conditions that are unique in every individual case.
But, also, I think the topic that Subnormal tackles is both timely and important. The book is set in England, but as an American I see many of the same things that Mr. Kenyon covered in his story. Of course, there was the infamous "Brexit" vote that made world headlines and is just one example of a growing isolationist tendency among authoritarian leaders. But the same thing can be observed in American politics too. Mr. Trump and his demand for "a wall" and the amount of support that the idea of banning Muslims from entering the US seems to have. In a country that was founded by people fleeing religious persecution and which canonized the principle of religious freedom in its Constitution! It seems utterly surreal, and yet it's all over the news.
Then there was the obvious sense of entitlement felt by the politicians. They seemed to believe that they deserved power and obedience, and anyone who didn't give it to them was not only wrong, they were a traitor. It was reminiscent of the connotations that the word "heretic" carried when the Catholic church still burned people for the offense. But I see some of the same attitudes in today's politicians.
Ms. Clinton's assertion that anyone who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary would have to automatically vote for her, and so she had no need to court their votes by representing their interests. And the collusion of mainstream media by the slanting of facts to bolster Ms. Clinton's campaign and refusing to cover things that might be damaging to her. The shaming that many of her supporters try to do against those who say they would prefer to vote for a third-party candidate instead of Ms. Clinton. Implying that those third-party voters somehow owe their votes to Ms. Clinton even if the voters feel she has failed to earn them. This is all just a lesser degree of the same problem.
Subnormal is a dystopian version of the logical conclusion of the direction politics seems to be heading today. It provides a vivid description of just how an authoritarian government could seize control of a populace and force conformity and obedience by suppressing dissent, controlling information through control of the media, and eliminating anyone who doesn't submit. It's a warning, on par with George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World, and I hope very much that people will both read it and heed it. Five stars and I'd give it six if I could. Well done, Mr. Kenyon, and I look forward to reading the rest of your series.
In Times Of Violence by Karina Kantas:
This book was an interesting and relatively quick read about a motorcycle gang and the different ways that joining it impacted a young woman's life. It follows both her and those she grows to care for, ending with a much more grown up look on life than the character starts with. It is a love story, but it is also a story of wanting desperately to belong and not knowing how. Finally, it is a story of a young woman coming of age in a world where there is no longer a way to know if you have truly come of age and her decisions to find a way to make her life seem as though it mattered and find a family she understood. It is a good book and I would recommend it for those looking for drama or adventure of the more realistic kind.
I wanted to like this book. I heard the author talking on a radio show about this novel and based on his description I couldn't wait to read it. The premise is interesting, which is why I gave it three stars, but the execution is severely lacking. First, there are quite a few typos and some incorrect word usage. But that could be fixed by a good proofreader, and so isn't that big a deal. What really disappointed me about this book was an endless stream of stereotypes and cliches. Just when I thought a character might turn out to be interesting, someone I'd like to get to know better, the author would insert some stereotype and I'd be rolling my eyes again. I still think this book has the potential to be amazing, but the author would have to do a bit more research and give his characters some individuality, rather than relying on tired formulas for a "type" of person.
On The Job Training by Jordan Buchanan:
Can an office romance work? Especially, when it's with your boss? That's a question Laura is going to find the answer to...after she and her employer, John, manage to get the sparks between them under control. But before that can happen, they stumble upon a mystery that might affect their ability to stay in business at all!
This is the first installment in a serial story, so it's pretty short and ends in a cliffhanger. In spite of its brevity, there's a lot of heat in these pages, which makes it a fun and exciting read. Though I generally consider cliffhangers to be annoying, this story makes it clear that it's written in serial form. Also, the characters are interesting and relatable, the story is fun, and the plot moves at a good pace. So, I'll forgive the ending. Five stars and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next!