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Book Review - Kill Code: A Dystopian Science Fiction Novel (by Clive Fleury)

Title: Kill Code: A Dystopian Science Fiction Novel
Series: -
Author: Clive Fleury
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Release Date: December 3rd, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 148


It's the year 2031. Our future. Their present. A world decimated by climate catastrophe, where the sun's heat is deadly and the ocean rises higher every day. A world ruled by the rich, powerful, and corrupt. A world where a good man can't survive for long.

Hogan Duran was a good man once. He was a cop, forced to resign in disgrace when he couldn't save his partner from a bullet. Now Hogan lives on the fraying edges of society, serving cruel masters and scavenging trash dumps just to survive.

But after four years of living in poverty, Hogan finally gets a chance to get back on his feet. He's invited to join the National Security Council, the powerful paramilitary organization responsible for protecting the rich and powerful from the more unsavory elements of society. All he needs to do is pass their deadly entrance exam, and he'll be rewarded with wealth and opportunity beyond his wildest dreams.

But this ex-cop's path to redemption won't be easy. The NSC are hiding something, and as Hogan descends deeper and deeper into their world, he starts to uncover the terrible truth of how the powerful in this new world maintain their power...and just how far they will go to protect their secrets.

In a world gone wrong, can one man actually make a difference, or will he die trying?"

(click to read an excerpt on Amazon)

- Review -
What Made Me Read It
I was sent a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. I'm not usually drawn to military genres but the blurb and some of the reviews I read hinted at interesting character conflicts so I decided to give it a try.

The Plot
In the near future, climate change has caused irreversible damage to the planet with rising sea levels submerging entire cities, high temperatures destroying agriculture and increased pollution making it hard to breathe. The world economy has collapsed and only 1/5 of the population can maintain a regular job, while the elite live in wealthy enclaves protected by high walls and security forces.

Hogan Duran used to be a cop, until the day he failed to prevent his partner from getting shot. Five years later, Hogan struggles to survive and provide for his disabled friend. During the day he works as a newspaper delivery man for the Los Angeles Free Times; at night he's a Picker, scavenging the trash dumps of "The Hills" for discarded food and other necessary goods. His only hope of a better life lies in joining the National Security Council ranks.

But the NSC is an elite security force and being selected as an officer is a tough challenge; the competition is fierce, the training brutal, and at 33 years of age Hogan is getting too old to successfully pass the tests and prove his worth. When NSC Base Camp 17 is raided by the Krail, a gang of outlaws who live in the wastelands beyond the cities, Hogan begins to question his decision to join the elite group. For the leader of the Krail hands him a warning: the NSC isn't the beneficial force it claims to be and the price of admittance may be too high to pay.

The Good
"Kill Code" is the first book in a series of dystopian novels set in the near future. Told in the first person through the eyes of the main character Hogan Duran, a 33 years old ex-cop who struggles to survive in a decaying Los Angeles, ruined by extreme climate change and a collapsed economy and society. After quitting the police force over the guilt of his partner's injury, Hogan's last hope to escape the poverty he lives in is to apply for a position inside the National Security Council, an elite security force that provides protection to the powerful and wealthy. But the selection process is brutal, the competition fierce and his own values a handicap.

The story is fast-paced with plenty of action sequences as the main character tries to pass the punishing physical, mental and emotional tests on NSC Base Camp 17 and fend off an attack from the Krails, a band of outlaws who roam the wastelands and frequently raid the metropolis.

This first volume is short in length and a quick read, with just enough world building to get a general idea of the background setting for the main plot. The author paints a grim future where extreme climate change has led to famine, economic collapse and social inequality; a sort of cautionary tale based on today's reality: political administrations denying the existence of climate change, rising xenophobia and racism prompting repressive border control, police brutality and power abuse, media misinformation practices. But being set in the future, there's also a few interesting sci-fi gadgets: glider steel balls used for communication, cerebral scanners that probe for psychological defects, robotic hand-to-hand combat simulation units and virtual reality rooms.

The main character is 3-dimentional and complex, we follow his personal journey through all his mental and emotional states: from his guilt over his partner's injury to his determination to escape a life of poverty, his weaknesses and strengths during the selection process, his doubts when he realizes the NSC isn't what it's supposed to be and indecision between a life of privilege over his core values. The secondary characters (the NSC senior officers General Stoker and Commander Beecham, the candidates Jake Teerman and Ruby Mason, and the Krail leader Hunter) are mostly stereotypical but they fulfill their roles well as allies and antagonists.

It took me too long to warm up to the plot. A big portion of the novel focus on the merciless selection process to join the ranks of the NSC and I just couldn't connect with the theme. I don't particularly enjoy the military genre and even though the main character was interesting and well developed the book failed to catch my interest. But that's just a personal distaste, for those readers who do enjoy the genre the book delivers on its promise. The plot twist about 3/4 of the way though was brilliant and completely unexpected, it was a work of art that earned the novel an extra book/star in the final rating.

Final Rating
"Kill Code" is a fast-paced and action packed dystopian novel set in the near future. Recommended for those who enjoy military genre and survival stories with a focus on climate change and economic and social collapse.

• • • •

- About the Author -
Website: clivefleurywriter.com
Twitter: @clivefleury
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Horror

Hi, I’m Clive and when I was young, a man behind a big desk who called himself a ‘Career Specialist’ fell about laughing when I told him I wanted to tell stories. He had other plans for me. “You should be an engineer, that’s what you should be,” he said.

Luckily I ignored his advice, because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have embarked upon a life that is all about telling stories, either through writing, as an author and screenplay scribe, or in pictures, through television and movies – as a director and producer.

I hope you enjoy reading my latest venture, which was written in Miami where I live with my wife, teenage daughter, and cat Louis. It definitely and absolutely has nothing to do with engineering.

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