Thursday 7 February 2013

Book Review: The A-Men by John Trevillian

The A-Men
by John Trevillian
Sci-fi/Speculative Fiction
3.5 Stars


Jack is a man with no memory, awakening in a dark and dangerous metropolis on the eve of its destruction. The only clue to his former life: a handwritten note in the pages of a book of faerie tales entitled Forevermore. Marked for death in a peacekeeping force sent to quell the riots, he finds sanctuary and survival with other renegades on the streets of Dead City. Battling to survive, they form the infamous A-Men, misfits who have a unifying dream: to be special. Yet that is until their paths cross with Dr Nathaniel Glass and his mysterious experiment locked deep beneath the Phoenix Tower.


Now, I'm not a woman who only reads romances or things like that. My shelves are full of fantasy and sci-fi books, but I think this book is aimed firmly at a male market. I think there is too much violence in for it to be anything else, and some of the women in this book are not treated very well at all. It was disturbing in some parts.

A dystopian tale set in a distant-future Earth, where everything has been controlled for years by mega-corporations. They control everything: food, shelter, water, supplies, electricity, everything that people need to survive. But the mega-corps are leaving, along with the rich who can afford to live on the space stations that orbit Earth. Earth is plunged into darkness as the electricity and water and food supplies dwindle with no hope of ever returning to how things were. There are two main groups left on the planet: those who are hunted and those who are the hunters. Laws and rules go out the window and a peace-keeping force is sent, of whom Jack is one.

Jack is a man with no memory and as the book goes on, you discover that he wanted to wipe his own memory and you're left wondering why someone would so such a thing. Along with Jack, we have chapters from other characters, including Pure, one of the women left on Earth, Sister Midnight, a religious zealot and a solider alongside Jack.

I found the alternating chapters from different points of view annoying at times. You were just getting into what was happening and then the action switched to a different person or place. The whole book was also written mostly in the present tense, which is not my favourite so it took a while to get into.

Some of the science and technical jargon went way over my head, so I wasn't actually sure sometimes what I was reading about. All the talk about guns and weapons' statistics when we were in Jack's head bored me.

Where the author does excel is with the characterisation of each narrator. Every one of them has their own distinct voice, so even if you hadn't seen the chapter title (which are all the names of the characters narrating that particular part) you'd still know whose chapter it was.

The author has written an interesting, fast-paced tale with twists and turns, sometimes violent and bloody, sometimes confusing, but something you could imagine might really happen one day. Not the book for you if you find swearing offensive.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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