The Kill Code, by Clive Fleury
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In reading a book like this, it is important to recognize that this book will be greatly appealing to some people for reasons that it is not as appealing to me. In framing this work, the author has taken contemporary fears about global warming, assumed the panicking to be true, and then adding to that a conspiratorial view about economic, political, and military elites. For the most part, the book’s general approach is one that is familiar to those who are fond of post-apocalyptic literature, but more than most there is a distinct and hostile political slant to the material that someone who was less of a Bernie Bro than the author is would find to be less than enjoyable. And as someone who is politically on the opposite side of the spectrum to Bernie Bros does point out a certain degree of opposition between the author’s worldview and my own. Given that the author’s apparent worldview is so much in evidence as the context and grounding for the worldbuilding of this novel, I definitely had a harder time enjoying it than I would have had the author been less heavy-handed in trying to show how this dysfunctional world came to be. A bit more restraint would have made this novel easier to get into.
As far as novels go, this book is a short one of just over 100 pages that begins with a hero, Hogan Duran, who is a bit of an everyman, looking for odd jobs delivering a free newspaper in the aftermath of the gig economy where nearly everyone is homeless and broke and where only a few have been able to protect themselves from the general social collapse in an America that resembles sub-Saharan Africa. With an opportunity to join the National Security Council, Hogan takes the chance and finds that, as has often been the case, he is simply unable to make the most of opportunities to advance because his “conscience” gets in the way. A great deal of the book deals with hazing and the tests of military/police life as well as the blurred line between virtual reality and reality and a vision of a socialist uprising that takes advantage of some dumb luck and suitably collectivist heroes who shout mindless praise at their comrade/leaders.
It is easy to see a market for this kind of book. If you are deeply skeptical about the police and tend to think that enforced poverty for ordinary people, a high divide between rich and poor, and the exploitation of prison labor for the profit of selfish elites who keep slots into that elite very limited, this book certainly strikes a chord with our times. The book’s somewhat abrupt ending seems to suggest that this book is aiming at a sequel that includes the overthrow of a tyrannical government of wealthy and spoiled elites who have gone too far and deserve to be overthrown. In such times as our own, given the author’s fairly obvious political leanings, this particular book could be an implicit call to arms given the similarities that exist between our own time and this dystopian universe. It is even possible that the author’s reference to a war in Albania is a conscious nod to the hilarious political spoof “Wag The Dog,” which similarly focused on a corrupt attempt to drive up a war scar with Albania, or at least if it is an accidental reference it is still an interesting one. If I did not approve of everything in this book, it is a taut and exciting read and certainly a timely one.