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The Loop by Ben Oliver

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a book and kept asking myself what is happening the whole time. The Loop reminds me that there are authors out there not afraid to write those books. The future in this bleak dystopian is quite frankly frightening. Luka Kane, along with all the other prisoners in the Loop, has been sentenced to death for his crimes. Waiting out your execution date is like a nightmare version of the movie Groundhog’s Day. Each day starts with a morning greeting from the automated system, Happy, followed by breakfast. After an hour of outside time, there is free time. Then the nightmare really gets going at 5:30 with The Harvest. Why the Harvest? Because the government that put him in the Loop is harvesting his energy to run the place. The torture includes hallucinations and alternating hot and cold water that could only be described as a shower with a side of waterboarding. How long this lasts is anyone’s guess, but once it’s over, your body is depleted, and your mind is too. There’s nothing that can mentally prepare a person for this, but Luka is determined not to succumb to it. To break up the monotony of a day, the prisoners wait for their Delay day. The Delay takes place in the Facility, a train ride away in the darkest of tunnels. The Facility houses scientists that run experiments on the prisoners in the hopes the Alts, those who can afford to be surgically altered, will be able to use the upgrades. The possibility of death exists, but it’s not something the government is concerned with if it does.

As Luka counts the days in his cell, his only lifeline to others is the one hour a day he and others go outside. He can’t see anyone, but he can talk and listen. What he hears lately has him worried. The government issued rain didn’t happen, there are rumors of a rebellion, and more people are going missing. Something is happening outside the Loop, and it’s not good. Things get even weirder when Luka’s Delay date is pushed up, as are others in his section. It seems two groups are going. When prisoners from the first group return, it’s evident that something isn’t right, and when they start killing other prisoners, Luka and his friends know that escape is their only option. Except when they finally do, things outside of the Loop aren’t as they seem. As Luka searches for his family he left behind, the dangers of the city are only beginning.

This is a pulse-pounding science fiction ride. While not graphic, it’s also not shy about painting a nightmarish dystopian society. It isn’t until the end that some questions are answered, but it also opens up about a hundred new ones. At the time of me reading this, it wasn’t slated to be a series, but after doing some digging, it seems it will be a trilogy. I’m not sure if I’m excited to be scared of the future in another book, but I am excited to see how Ben Oliver pictures it. His writing is straightforward and plot-driven with plenty of action scenes to keep even those reluctant readers interested.

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