Book Review – What They Deserve by Sam Hendricks

There’s this running meme that’s been popping up lately about talking on phone in the 50s and being concerned that the line was tapped. Flash forward to 2019 and you’ve got a woman asking Alexa, “Hey, wiretap, what’s a good recipe for pancakes?”

It’s possible to debate the ins and outs of tech like Alexa, Siri, whatever Google’s calling their robo-assistant lately, but it’s not possible to debate the unintended side-effects of having a box sitting in your living room that’s listening to everything you say. Nor is it wise to debate the fact that you just paid good money to give every advertiser on the planet direct access to your house.

Now, I honestly don’t believe big tech has any nefarious plans for Alexa beyond finding new and exiciting ways to sell you shoes and non-stick pans, but what if that weren’t the case?

Sam Hendricks took that scenario, shook it up a little,  and added a hefty dose of mystery and crafted something uniquely terrifying not because of monsters or the existential threat of nuclear annihilation, but because of the extremely close proximity to our own world. A world where tech can provide a sense of security, much like a wall that keeps the bad guys out and controls the sanctity of the Reformed United States.

It’s control that’s the key to the story. Walls can be climbed or flown over or even tunneled under, but a good piece of tech can be even better at keeping people under control. And it’s into that world that Hendricks drops us with a smile and a wave.

What They Deserve is relatively short story, along the lines of a novella, but Hendricks packs it full of information. In the tradition of good writers, she doles out bits of data a byte at a time rather than giving us a full tedious, historical dump. Aside from being a nervous-making tale of technological and tyrannical woe, it’s a fun story that might leave you wondering about the technology we use every day and how it could impact our lives. I’m sure Alexa will have more information about that, though.

Highly entertaining, well-paced, and fun. This could be the start of a great series, if Sam was so inclined to write it.

SEATTLE, WA: 2053.

Summer Wilkins, the official spokesperson for the Reformed United States, is still grieving the loss of her son when a shocking murder rocks the city. After her husband is implicated, she’s drawn into a rebellion that’s ready to do anything to find out the truth behind the new “Inevix patches” being distributed to the public. Murder, mystery, and politics abound as Summer finds out that the biggest secrets are being hidden in her own family.

Get your copy on Amazon or from Kyanite Publishing

Check out her blog

Follow Sam on Twitter

Book Review – Stealing Silence by E.A. Darl

It’s always fun to read someone’s first novel. For those of you who’ve never written a book, dropping it into the wild is a moment of wild hope and massive, bone-shaking panic. Fortunately, the people that make it far enough to get the book written, get it edited and formatted, and put together a cover usually have enough skill and gumption to put together a decent story.

As far as I know, this is E.A. Darl’s first book and just in case anyone is wondering, I thought it was pretty good. So, if you’re reading this E.A., you can relax a little.

Set in a not-too-distant future, Stealing Silence is the first of what will probably become a series of stories about a world that fell apart, a pair of girls who lost their parents, and the government that stomped on everyone. In some ways, it’s a parable for our times. In others, it’s a nice twist on dystopian fiction.

Most dystopian books – at least the ones I’ve read – focus on the world falling apart from war or some external input that tears the fabric of the world apart and spits on it. Darl’s precipitating event was ecological, a slow slide into chaos as the food begins to run short. The world ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, leaving everyone with too little to eat and an uncertain future.

Into this mix comes Avalon, a young woman trying to care for her sister and avoid dying by inches from starvation. After she gets popped for trying to steal food, Avalon winds up in the middle of a crazy plan to find out just what the heck caused the devastation and what can be done to fix it.

Stealing Silence does a good job with its protagonist, focusing most of the narrative on her point of view. One of the things I would have liked to have seen, and perhaps subsequent stories in the series will cover it, is getting a look at the world through the eyes of others. We get hints that there’s a lot going on outside of the main story, but the story is tightly focused. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. But I would like to see more of the world in future stories.

All in all, a fun read. It clocks in at around 95 pages, so it’s not a taxing read and has plenty of space for expansion. Like all introductory stories, it does a good job of introducing our characters and the world they live in while leaving us with enough questions to make us want more.

“Orphaned. Alone. Starving.
The land is dying. As resources dwindle, the population is placed at the mercy of a secretive government, which operates on its own agenda. Critical top-level scientists researching the ecological disaster have gone missing, their disappearance a cold case file that haunts the local constabulary.
Desperate for answers, the police captain hatches a plan to recover a critical key to the land’s survival. What they need is an experienced thief, and they know just the girl. Avalon is not just any burglar; she is an uncommonly good one. Caught in the act of stealing, she is recruited against her wishes to pull off the boldest heist ever: to raid the high security government facilities.
Can one young girl pull off the theft of a lifetime? Failure is not an option, for it will mean starvation for all.
Don’t miss out on this exciting new dystopian series! Download your copy today!”

Get your copy on Amazon