I bring you another book by one of my favourite authors. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Wasteland (Operation Galton Book 2) by Terry Tyler
“Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society. The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.”
The year: 2061. In the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make. Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine. One too many demerits? Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.
Rae Farrer is the ultimate megacity girl – tech-loving, hard-working, law-abiding and content – until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.
On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…
Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to ‘Hope’, the concluding book in the two-part Operation Galton series, and Terry Tyler’s twenty-first publication.
About the author:
Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-one books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Wasteland’, a dystopian thriller set in the UK in 2061, the stand-alone sequel to ‘Hope’. Other recent releases include ‘Blackthorn’, a stand-alone post apocalyptic drama related to her Project Renova series. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.
I received an ARC copy of this novel previous to its publication, and I’m pleased to finally be able to review it of my own free wall.
I discovered the author of this novel a few years back, and I am aware that she writes in a variety of genres, but for some reason, every time I think of reading one of her books in a different genre, another one of her dystopic novels comes my way, and I can’t resist their call. I have read and reviewed The Project Renova Series and also Blackthorn (an offshoot of that series), and I read the first novel in this series (or duo of novels, unless the author decides to return to this world later), Hope (you can find my review here) a little over a year ago. Circumstances have changed since I read the first novel, and the Coronavirus health crisis has made me think of the Project Renova Series, especially Tipping Point, very often. But many other worldwide events have kept Hope also quite fresh in my mind.
What to say about this author? Reading her reviews of books by other authors (that I recommend as well) one learns that although she enjoys a well-plotted story, she needs meaty characters to engage with as well, and paper-thin characterisation doesn’t cut it for her and that is reflected in her books. The plot of this novel, like that of Hope, is gripping, don’t get me wrong, but what always makes me fully engage with a story is believing in the characters and connecting with them, not always because I like them. When it comes to this author’s novels, even those characters I don’t like feel true, human, and relatable, down to their weaknesses and their evil ways.
I don’t want to ruin this novel for anybody, so I won’t go into the plot in too much detail. The story takes place in the same dystopic but recognisable future world featured in Hope, but almost forty years later (in 2061). Those who worry about starting to read a series in the middle don’t need to worry too much, as the novel starts slowly and there is enough world building and information about the way things work for readers to quickly pick up and settle into the story, although I’m sure anybody who starts to read here will want to know what happened before (and I recommend reading both books and in the right order if at all possible). For those who read the first novel a while back, there’s no need to worry either, because the author offers us a link to a summary at the beginning of the book. Having said that, the main characters are completely new, and although we do get the odd reference to some of the characters in the previous book (and some make a fleeting appearance in this volume), it is not necessary to remember every detail of the first book to enjoy this one, and this novel can be read independently.
Things have moved further along, the mega-corporations control everything in people’s lives (their diets, their contacts, their jobs, exercise regimes, transportation, opinions…), and the government is preparing the new phase of their plan. If they had managed to solve the problem of homelessness and poverty by removing, rehousing, and warehousing the people they found no use for (or those who could be disruptive), they now go a step further. I had mentioned “the final solution” in my review of the previous book, and this novel echoes that mentality, and, as many reviewers have mentioned, reminds us of Orwell’s Big Brother, but also of other dystopias (I kept thinking of Huxley’s Brave New World).
The main character, Rae, one of the inhabitants of a megacity, discovers that her early childhood and personal circumstances are very different to what she’d been told and decides to try and find out the truth and locate her family, despite the risks this might involve. Although when we meet her she is only a young woman who is not totally happy with her life (she is a counsellor but is frustrated at having to follow guidelines and dish out the same trite advice to everybody, and her boyfriend is self-obsessed and not very caring) but she does not question it, she evolves through the novel, grows, and learns to think for herself. Her story is told in the first-person and it occupies a big part of the book. That works well because it allows us to explore different aspects of the world order, as she travels between them trying to find her family. But we also get snippets of the stories, told in the third person, of a variety of characters, from one of the big and powerful who is behind much of what is to come, to a young man who ended up in a Hope Village and discovers that, no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse. There are others as well, and that allows us to experience, through the eyes of the characters, the ramifications of this operation and what it does to the population. Scary doesn’t quite cover it. It is terrifying, precisely because it feels so plausible, and because many of the things we hear the characters say (or read, or watch) are so similar to what we experience in our everyday lives that it is impossible not to pause and gasp.
No privacy, government monitoring of our lives, total control of information, the abysmal division between the haves and the have-nots, the cult of popularity, the importance given to looks and appearances above everything, the spinning of news and the emergence of fake news, the demolishing of any discordant voices, the pressure to conform, bullying and backstabbing at work, the cuts of the funding for social projects… The list of the issues brought up by the novel that could be out of today’s newsfeed is endless, and it seems to have become even more pressing and shocking now than when I read the first book.
When I think about this book and about the author, I’m reminded of the dialogue of a play I read years back, when one character explained that a clairvoyant is a person who “sees clearly”. And yes, this is what Tyler is, a clairvoyant, not so much because she can predict the future (I hope she’s got it wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it), but because she sees what’s happening around us with tremendous clarity. And she can write about it, for sure.
So, yes, I loved this book, although “loved” is perhaps not the right word for such a book. I enjoyed it immensely but I kept my fingers crossed and can’t but hope that the things in it that haven’t happened yet will never come to pass. I enjoyed the ending, at least for some of the characters I’d come to care about, (but the author takes no prisoners and this is not a cosy and happy ending by any stretch of the imagination); there are plenty of twists (if you needed a proof that we can make assumptions and reach the wrong conclusions when we read, this book delivers in a big way); and if you are looking for a gripping read that you won’t forget any time soon, I recommend it without reservations. If you are looking for a book that will take your mind off things and you’ll forget as soon as you’ve turned the last page, this isn’t it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Thanks to Terry for this fantastic novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and above all, keep safe.