Storm, book three of the Swipe series, featured this month by the CSFF Blog Tour, is a credible apocalyptic dystopian tale written by the elusive Mr. Evan Angler. It’s the story of the Revelation of John recorded in Scripture as the last book of the New Testament.
And yet you’d hardly know it. Before it is an end times novel, Storm is a middle grade novel peopled with interesting characters trying to survive as best they can.
The Story. Before I get started, let me say that I recommend you read the first two books in the Swipe series–Swipe and Sneak, then pick up Storm. I actually thought the author did a masterful job acquainting new readers with what happened before. It didn’t feel forced, and I thought the review might be considered helpful for readers who had been away from this world for six months. Still, I didn’t feel as if I got as much out of the book as I would have, if I’d read the first two offerings first.
But back to the story–or rather the backstory. After a horrific war, the leader of the united America initiates a system requiring all citizens to receive an identification mark when they turn thirteen. Logan Langly reports to receive his mark, though he is filled with doubt. His sister had reported to receive her mark on her birthday and had not been seen since.
Logan has completed the preliminaries, but before he receives the mark, he changes his mind and becomes one of the many Markless who are not considered citizens. They can’t use transportation systems, get jobs, buy or sell goods, and more.
When Storm begins, Logan has been recently freed from prison, having been betrayed by his sister in his attempt to rescue her. In so doing, he exposed the government’s underground prison system and the security force known as the IMPS.
One of those who helped Logan is Erin, a Marked citizen who has contracted a manufactured virus intended to be released as a weapon against the Markless. But obviously something has gone wrong. Logan and his friends set out to do what they can to save Erin, but Logan becomes embroiled in political intrigue as a United Europe joins with America to create the Global Union. What can Logan do to help his friend, save his sister, and protect the Markless who are at the mercy of the government-controlled weather?
Strengths. The most notable strength, I thought, was that Storm didn’t feel as if it was an end-time novel, with all the predictability that contains for anyone familiar with Revelation. The story was clearly about Logan and his friends, though there were cataclysmic stakes.
I also thought the futuristic elements were credible–the development of, and technology in, cities; the creation of a controlling government under the leadership of a charismatic or revered head; the change in modes of transportation; the development of a government-controlled system to manipulate the weather; and so on.
Another strength was the appearance of “good” and “bad” characters on both sides. Some Marked citizens awoke to the realization that the government was going in the wrong direction. Some Markless seemed less concerned about doing what was right than doing what was good for their friends.
In all, I thought the plot moved crisply and there was intrigue and suspense that kept my interest. I wanted to know the answers to the many questions that popped up along the way. I liked the unexpected twists that kept me second guessing what appeared to be happening.
Weaknesses. While there were some minor issues–an omniscient point of view that seemed to shift from one person’s thoughts to another’s within a scene, for instance–they did not significantly pull me out of the story. One thing did, however.
Perhaps half way or two-thirds of the way through the story, one of the characters finds a copy of Swipe, the first book in this series, and one that supposedly chronicles the events of the characters we’re reading about. On the surface that might sound like a clever device, but in actuality it pulled me from the story completely.
I mean, I was lost in a world that had no cars because there was little to no gasoline, and highways were falling apart. The cities were all filled with buildings twice as high as today’s skyscrapers, and citizens were tattooed with a mark that allowed them to enjoy the privileges of place. It was a believable world that I could conceive of fifty, a hundred years from now. And suddenly I was reading about a book that came into existence in my real past.
I felt like someone woke me up by dumping a bucket of ice water on my head. No, I was no longer in New Chicago or Beacon or Spokie. There was no DOME or IMPS or Global Union or weather mill. I was reading fiction, and fiction that was calling attention to itself in the process of pretending to be someone’s documentation of real events.
It was really the only disappointing part of the book, but alas, it was repeated several times, and Storm itself comes into play in the end.
Recommendation. If someone is looking for a Left Behind type book or a story filled with references to God’s judgment or the need for salvation, they should bypass Storm and the Swipe series.
I could be wrong about this, but one line made me think this story is supposed to have happened after the rapture (I think there was a passing comment about thousands of people who went missing). If I’m right, then I think these people–Marked and Markless–are acting in perfectly believable ways. They didn’t know about the prophecies in Scripture, about God’s love, redemption, or the coming judgment. Consequently it’s no surprise that they aren’t praying, worshiping, witnessing, or commenting on the hand of God and the fulfillment of prophecy before their eyes.
They’re mostly surviving, but they’ve found a Bible, and spiritual things are dribbling into their lives in a natural, believable way. So if a reader is looking for a story that is intriguing and credible in its approach to the future, then Storm is the book–after reading Swipe and Sneak.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.