Book Review: The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: Inkshares

ISBN: 9781947848511

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 3.3/5

Publisher’s Description: In the year 2090, America has walled itself off from the rest of the world. When her father is arrested by the totalitarian Board, a young woman sets out to escape the only country she’s ever known. While on a routine assignment scouting the country’s dwindling natural resources, Patricia “Patch” and her coworker and best friend Rexx discover a cache of dangerous contraband—printed books from before the Seclusion. These texts spark an unquenchable thirst for the truth that sees Patch’s father arrested by the totalitarian Board, which runs the entire country. Evading their own arrest, Patch and Rexx set out across a ruined future United States, seeking some way to escape the only home they’ve ever known. Along the way, they learn about how their country came to be this way, but their newfound knowledge may lead to their own demise.

Review: Kind of spoiler alert.

The Good– The first movement where Patch is more or less a drone to the ruling Board is wonderful.  Strange deaths, blind programmed allegiance among a sea of potential traitors and a history uncovered was just the tip to this wonderful story line. And finally a main female character that is not constantly swooning over a hunky boy(s), but rather focused on SURVIVAL. What this created was room for character expansion while making intimate interactions more poignant. Thank you Jacqui for that.

The Bad- The main premise behind the whole novel is one of great acceptance. The idea that the entire United States is overthrown by our own government, is a stretch. There is no way that our government acting without a common threat or under bleak economic circumstances (i.e. Hitler), would be able to corral 260 million people, especially when everyone hates their actions. Add to that, Wisconsin alone is the third largest standing army in the world. There are some referents to nuking our own people but that does not make sense either (contamination and subsequent extirpation of resources). The world built is hardly supportable, if indeed you reside in a nuclear wasteland.

The Ugly- So again we have a story line that is reminiscent of the Mockingjay what with the Katniss clone and a hunky unrequited love interest. There is the big bad Board and all the trappings of a dystopian society. Of course Katn…….er, Patch is the lone savior. What bothered me most was the weak character development. There was plenty of movement but it was not tied to the characters growing with the story line. There are many pivotal moments in the story that could have provided this depth but the author chose to go into pages and pages of backstory. Building a history of a person based on past events does not a character make. Characters are made by the current actions they embrace and the emotional interactions that ensue. For instance; to be wary of someone, then not, just doesn’t endear you to their plight.

Blondie and Tuco have a drink- At the end of the novel I had a hard time swallowing the whole speal. It really lent credence to an unsupportable world. But, reluctantly I had a good time with it. Mainly because Patch hadn’t glued her boobs to Rexx’s chiseled abs while smelling his chocolaty/pine musky scent. Really, you don’t know how much of a relief that is. The writing is good but lacks it’s own voice. Ideas are borrowed from other established works, only the names have been changed. You see this a lot with authors that have the technical talent but lack the inner creative voice.

I kind of look forward to this new author to see whether she can build depth of character and create a believable world based on her own wild imaginations.

p.s. Note to author: Leave Rexx where he currently is. That’s a start, is it not?

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