Line by Niall Bourke

Thank you to Anne Carter and Tramp Press for allowing me to participate in this blog tour. All views my own.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Imagine that all you know is that you have to wait. You have to sit patiently in the Line until you reach your destination. You know as well that if you step out of the Line, you forfeit your place in it, and that there isn’t anything left out there just wild animals that are waiting, just like you, for their next meal. What would you do? Would you go against the instincts instilled in you ever since you were born that you have to remain in the Line? Or would you throw away all the sacrifices of the ones before you, and go into the unknown with the hope that it will be worth it.

To those who don’t know, dystopia holds a very deep place in my heart. There was one summer when all I read was dystopia and I craved more. It wasn’t some sick fascination with suffering but a need to see characters overcome the biggest challenges that a person could: their own limitations.

After reading Line, I’m happy to say that this is one of the best dystopia that I’ve read since The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. If you have read a dystopian novel before you know how important the story elements are in this genre. There needs to be enough promise, enough trouble and enough character development but most importantly there needs to be a worthy pay off and a satisfying ending to the story. And with Line, I can confirm that this checks all the boxes.

A horrifying tale bringing patience and overcoming the herd mentality to the forefront complemented by beautiful writing that will make a lasting impression on anyone who dares to open the cover, makes Line by Niall Bourke a stand-out.

The story develops from two points of view but we mainly follow Willard who has been born and raised in the Line. He knows what would happen if he would leave the Line. It even happened to his father. And to a certain degree Willard doesn’t mind this. He has his routine, collecting rations, caring for his mother but then something unexpected happens. The Line moves.

The story takes twists and turns and Bourke manages to captivate his readers by his unique writing style. Each sentence carries weight and if anything the tone to the story is set from the very beginning. Through out reading this book I felt more like someone telling me a story. A story that coincidentally I heard a couple of times from my parents from their experience during the communist period in Eastern Europe and how they used to be sent to wait in a line for hours for things that we now consider easily accessible.

Even after closing the cover to this book, I couldn’t find a fault to this story. There are many dystopian novels where at the end I would’ve like to change something. Especially the ending. But with Line, I feel that all the check boxes have been ticked and this book has the potential to be a classic in the dystopian genre without sacrificing its uniqueness or its authenticity. Definitely will be recommending this to everyone I know.

Thank you to Anne Carter who organised this tour and who introduced me to this marvelous book. Thank you to Tramp Press for bringing this book into the world and hopefully to many more to come. I would encourage anyone to go out and give this book a try because if anything this will be an eye opener and I would love to hear what you thought about Line.

Q by Christina Dalcher

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For the first review of February, I went out of my comfort zone.

I went through a phase recently where I was desperate for a good dystopian fiction novel. It came around after I had just remembered and reread Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and I remembered I had read a brilliant novel from Christina Dalcher called Vox.

I was so glad to find that she had published another dystopian novel. And let me tell you, I loved Q probably more than I did Vox.

Something with the story resonated with me. The premise of the world that Dalcher constructs in Q was realistic to me. Coming from a background where the societal pressure I lived in was more focused on what degree and what marks I had achieved more than what I was able to actually do crawled out of me just after I understood that the world of Q was based on this.

A world where you are basically marked by what a test that is done on you as an infant tells you, you are able to do. Not what you can actually do. Not your aspiration. Not the work that you put in. But a test that benchmarks you in one of the classes predefined by the authoritarian government.

An instant favourite. Dalcher is a master at setting up her characters to succeed.

The main character through which the story is told is Elena Fairchild. Elena is a mother of two and she is in fact classified as being part of the upper class in the society. She is a teacher in one of the new elite schools that her two daughters attend. Elena’s children, Anne and Freddie are exactly like she is. Ambitious and hard working to achieve the standard that her mother but also the society holds of them.

We follow Elena on a journey of discovery but also understanding that the danger was always closer to home. Her husband does work for the government and when a recent mandate asks that all children are periodically checked for their quotient (for short Q), Elena’s dark past and secrete come to the surface.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey Elena goes through. Emotionally she’s one of the most stable characters I have read in a long while. She makes sacrifices through out the book that made sense and didn’t needed to be explained by long paragraph’s because Dalcher worked on setting up her characters for what was to come.

Q is a standalone novel that will become an instant favorite for everyone who reads it. I’m thoroughly excited of what Christina Dalcher will publish next and if she can keep raising the bar in her novels.