Lance Erlick asked me to read his novel "Rebel Trap". It is a Twenty Minutes Into The Future style dystopia story. It's basically a teenage girl from one division of her country's police department going under cover to investigate corruption in the other division. I will examine Plot, Character and Polish and then assign a grade.
Terms in All Caps are tropes, and their definitions can be found on Tvtropes.
I thought this book was a stand alone and that the first book "Rebel Within" concerned a different cast; same setting but different people. For this reason, I thought the start was In Media Res. It is not but it is constructed well enough, and enough information from the first book is provided in an unobtrusive form, that I thought so until I looked at the premise for book 1 on Amazon. Kudos to Mr. Erlick for that.
What we have here is a cop intern named Annabelle who is investigating the local police force on behalf of the leader of the mech corps, which are basically an elite police/border guard outfit. At the same time, she is kinda-sorta helping an Underground Railroad organization smuggle boys out of the country so they won't be killed for sport or experimented on. She's also looking into an assassination attempt on her mother, a senator who opposes such blood sport legislatively and whom both her bosses would love to pin like a roach. Yes, it's pulled in a lot of different directions.
TvTropes would call this the "stale beer" approach to espionage. It is dirty, not glamorous; stressful, not exciting; so classified that Annabelle has trouble doing any kind of spying because she can't talk to anyone about it nor can she hack databases for fear of being tracked. I got the sense that her secret boss was sticking her out like a candy bar so when her public boss grabs for it, the secret boss can cut her hand off.
This is a special section because it is big enough to warrant its own space.
It is hard to take this setting seriously due to the drastic changes made from what is America in reality and what is in this fictional history. Don't give me "But it's not drastic! Stuff like this is already happening!!!" I don't want to hear it. This is absurd, both in terms of the scale of politics, the fundamental change in society, and the sophistication of technology given the scant time from the date it was written.
I don't see the point of including separate gender society with the police state dystopia. It sounds like the stories the ancient Greeks told about the amazons; warrior women who oppressed the men in their society. The general message was "we oppress them so they don't oppress us."
My other thought is that the point is to counter the belief that a matriarchy would make for a kinder and gentler world. In that case, Mr. Erlick's thoughts on the subject are that women are just as capable of corruption, oppression etc. as men.
There's so much backstory and world building that I'm missing that I wonder why Mr. Erlick asked me to read the second book in the series before the first. Judging from the premise of the first book, it ends in a cliffhanger because this second book starts in such a way that the first can not have had a clean ending. Then judging from this, I suspect that Mr. Erlick knew that I didn't like cliffhangers. If this is the case, it is appreciated.
The ending is satisfying. It closes the book's conflict in a satisfactory manner but the series' conflict is still open and being developed.
Annabelle has a lot of personal angst and is given to voicing it frequently. Because of the first person narration, the reader will hear all of it. Also, while she regularly speaks of how awful her society is, from the stuff that's banned for some reason to the corrupt officials who do the stuff anyway and pay the police to ignore them, her tone is disinterested apathy. It's like she's annoyed by it instead of a more heroic outrage.
Janine is Annabelle's younger sister and is also in the mech corps. I found her preferable to her sister because she doesn't angst as much as Annabelle, and when she does, she takes action on it. While her sister has this grumpy fake politeness, Janine can more convincingly play the part. She compares it to pastel wallpaper; something everyone sees but no one truly notices, or acknowledges.
The immediate villains are here a couple of police officers who act petty and nasty due to personal grudges they've held for far too long. There's a more visionary and far reaching Evil Plan but the reader will not hear of it or its main actor for over one hundred pages.
Annabelle's mech boss is a Stern Teacher who is fond of the Secret Test of Character. She also strikes me as the kind of person to say We Have Reserves.
It looks good. No errors.
Trickster Eric Novels gives The Rebel Trap a C
This has been a free review request. I received nothing in exchange except a free copy of the book.
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