Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children Of Paranoia - Trevor Shane


Children Of Paranoia
Trevor Shane
Dutton

Thriller
 
Joe is a soldier.  He fights in the War.  His job is to kill the targets identified by his superiors, efficiently and without question.  No one really knows when or how the War started; not even those fighting and dying for the cause on either side has a real grasp on any concept other than taking revenge for past violence.  It’s possible that the higher-ups know the truth, but it’s apparently not the concern of those on the ground.  If Joe’s honest with himself, he’d have to admit that he really has no idea if he’s fighting on the ‘good’ side or the ‘bad’ side of this conflict.

You get into the War by being born into it, or marrying into it.  The population of the world at large has no idea this War even exists.  There are iron-clad rules prohibiting the involvement or killing of civilians.  Only the initiated participate.  Every child born into the War becomes aware of it at age sixteen.  Most of the kids have already lost at least one close family member.  It might be a parent, a sibling, an uncle, or all of the above.  There follows two years of training before becoming active at eighteen.  No one under the age of eighteen is allowed to participate; that’s another iron-clad rule.  Anyone who breaks the rules becomes an immediate target for both sides; outed by his/her own people to the enemy for elimination.
 
Joe travels to Montreal for a job.  It’s going to be a difficult job, so his handlers allow him some time for surveillance of the mark.  During that time, he meets a girl, Maria.  Given the nature of his life, Joe has never thought about falling in love.  Having a family just gives the other side more targets to eliminate.  Joe and Maria fall for each other, hard and fast.  He can’t tell her the truth about his life, of course, and just wants to be ‘normal’ for a few days.  His plans are destroyed when he discovers that Maria is pregnant.  Despite his personal losses and life-long devotion to the War, Joe decides that it’s worth risking everything, even his own life, to try and carve out a life with Maria, even if they have to do it on the run.
 
It’s hard to believe that this is a first novel.  The writing is more than solid, the pace never flags, and the action sequences are almost surreal.  This is not for the squeamish, but if you’re a fan of thrillers and chase novels, this is a sure bet.  There were a few elements that didn’t quite hang together for me, but these quibbles are pretty easy to overlook as the story rockets along.  The story is presented in Joe’s voice, as he writes his story in a journal for Maria.  This gives events real immediacy and impact.  Even when they’re making mistakes that would be glaringly obvious in retrospect, the journal format makes it fairly easy to see why each character does what s/he does.  The final pages make it clear that there’s more to come in this story, and I’m interested to see where it goes from here.
 
Rating: 8
September 2011
ISBN# 978-0-525-95237-4 (hardcover)

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