3 out of 4 stars
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There’s a reason sci-fi books are usually so long. When authors build alternate realities, create alien planets, or render their versions of a dystopian future, pages and pages of the narrative are devoted to providing readers with histories, backstories, and other necessary information. That’s why I find Gibbo Gibbs’ take on a post-apocalyptic world extremely fascinating. Killer Domes and the Chosen One is a novella of just 134 double-spaced pages. And yet despite its brevity, it has the usual hallmarks of science fiction (e.g., synthetic humans, space travel, technologically advanced society), a surprisingly vivid setting, and a rich, coherent plot.
The apocalypse has come and gone. Part of humanity fled to space while part remained on Earth, ensconced under a protective dome. In this society, humans spend their lives as inventors, where they are rated according to the value of their projects. They don’t really sleep; instead, they get rebooted (meaning, chemicals are injected into their bodies). The reboot process suppresses their negative emotions, hence enforcing the status quo of what appears to be a secluded utopia. But Maz is different. She’s special — or so she was told. Poised to take over as the dome’s leader, things change for Maz when she meets Mitch, a man on a desperate mission to save his own dome from destruction. Yes, there are other domes. Yes, much of what Maz knew about her world is a lie. And yes, Mitch is special too. A self-declared “chosen one,” Mitch enlists the help of Maz and her best friend, Hap, to save the world — one dome at a time.
Killer Domes and the Chosen One manages to be both thought-provoking and ironic. There’s something philosophical about Gibbs’ vision of an age that’s saturated with technology. Gibbs initially paints the dome as a safe haven. Then he slowly dispels the illusion, both for the characters and the readers, peeling the layers back to reveal the dome for what it is — a prison and a deadly trap. There’s also something satirical about the way Gibbs exploits the literary trope of the chosen one. Both Maz and Mitch have a hero complex, including an inflated sense of self-importance that makes them nearly impossible to like. However, they both undergo their own rude awakenings as the plot thickens, and how they deal with their frailties and shortcomings takes the story to interesting directions.
Gibbs’ characters are memorable but not necessarily relatable. Most of the story is told through the third-person perspective of Maz, and she often describes people in demeaning ways. In her eyes, nearly everyone is stupid, moronic, or inferior. I also think her treatment of Hap is practically bullying, even bordering on abuse. However, given Hap’s lack of purpose outside of his relationship with Maz, commiserating with him is difficult. Mitch has some good moments when he’s interacting with his lover or his robot best friend, but his obsession to play the hero often overshadows his other qualities. Gibbs did leave some unresolved plot points, implying that there may be more of the story to come. If so, there’s definitely room for the characters to grow some more.
I rate Killer Domes and the Chosen One 3 out of 4 stars. While the plot and the setting were handled well, I can't say the same for the character development. The text is also not error-free, with a few issues in punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure. Overall, this is for readers who want a fast-paced story, particularly those who don’t have the patience or the time to wade through longer sci-fi works out there. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the sci-fi genre, this is also a good place to start.
Killer Domes and the Chosen One
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