Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
HAIL TO THE GREAT STATE!
The world, limited to a population of 4 billion, is fractured into eight warring shards, the most powerful of which is the Great State (implied to be the remainder of the United States), a totalitarian, hierarchical society that has completely abandoned any and all personal freedoms and civil liberties in exchange for cold, hard efficiency.
This cold, hard efficiency primarily comes in the form of technological advantages like pre-programmed cybernetic humanoids (“AE humans”) and the AI which rules them all.
The author truly wasted no time introducing us to their horrifying, terrifying apocalyptic world. For once in our contest's history, we really appreciated that. In most other literary situations, you want to show the audience what's going on rather than tell them. You want to build to it. You want to develop it. You want to drop hints and leave some crumbs. This is usually how literature is approached.
However, we're so used to this that it's actually tiring at this point. We're jaded of authors leaving us confused and bewildered, having to chase after basic information like who is who and what is what on page one.
Contrary to that, this author just straight up told us everything that was going down within the first twenty pages of the book. There was no mystery, there was no build, there was no tension, there was no development—just a cold, hard, efficient introduction to the world we're now trapped in. And, for once, it made complete and total sense. This is how information is presented to the AE humans who are born into this strange, foreign world. So, in a sense, it immerses us. It makes us (the reader) feel the shock, surprise, horror, and cognitive dissonance that these AE humans feel.
This book follows XY777-316, often shortened to 316, a human-cyborg hybrid who is constructed to be one in a male warrior class. Yes, even your job is predetermined. So, there goes free-will.
Like others in the male warrior class, he is assigned a gender, a height, and even a hair and skin color that fits the uniformity assigned by the Great State.
Now, one thing that we found both fascinating and funny about this book is how the competing socio-political ideologies of the 2020s play out in the story. It actually kinda beats you over the head with it. However, what we found most interesting is that it's hard to tell what the author's political leaning is. On one hand, you get every right-wing conspiracy theory presented in this book. On the other hand, you get every left-wing conspiracy theory presented in this book. It is surprisingly humorous and amusing, almost as if the text is mocking all of this tribalism.
We also appreciated that this book was short. It wasn't an epic, complex, long-evolving story with twenty characters and forty side-plots. Instead, it said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done. Do you know what else was short, sweet, and simple? 1984, the greatest dystopian novel ever written, which is almost certainly the inspiration for this book.
Check it out on Amazon!