4 out of 4 stars
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Set in a futuristic world where even the smallest mistake or misunderstanding can lead to a person receiving the label of terrorist, L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century by Jason R. Richter tells a tale of American culture in extremes. The story follows P. McGewan-X04, whose life is progressing normally in a very consumer-driven and patriotism centric world when suddenly an engineering mistake accidentally causes a forty-ton container to fall from an airship onto his car as he is driving home. The event is quickly determined to be an act of terror and the man in charge of loading the airship is promptly executed. Upon awakening, P. McGewan's life quickly changes as he slowly becomes aware of what is truly happening in the world around him.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century was intriguing from the start. The dystopian and futuristic setting in which the main character resides is an impressive imagining of consumerism in an extreme that eerily captures the dangers of the very similar preoccupation that exists in America today. The Government uses patriotism to control the masses, pushing the idea that it is linked irreversibly with the constant purchasing of goods. The population is regularly brainwashed into compliance with threats of terrorist attacks and the idea that anyone making mistakes or showing a lack of support for the country is a terrorist themselves.
There was a lot to like about Richter's novel. I was pulled right into the story and the premise brilliantly managed to make me truly think about the message the author was trying to send. I found myself enjoying every aspect of the novel as I read it, eagerly devouring each page. The plot was very imaginative and well executed which only made me love it all the more. Richter built a beautifully terrifying world for his readers that I even felt myself missing once I'd finished reading.
Best of all, Richter's characters were clever and interesting. Not only did they seem very real, but I felt genuinely invested in their lives and futures. They were all quite unique and I adored the main character, P. McGewan-X04, who was often portrayed as honorable and intelligent. He was abrasive on occasion, but I found the brashness had an endearing quality to it when paired with the rest of his personality.
The only disappointment I experienced while reading this book came when I read the epilogue. While I found it entertaining at first as it gave me an opportunity to see where the characters were after all they'd been through, the epilogue felt extremely out of place. It didn't seem to match the rest of the book at all and there was nothing to lead readers into the odd plot twist. It ultimately felt unnecessary, out of the blue, and confusing. I truly believe Richter's book would be much better without it.
At the end of the day, I really loved L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century. Despite the strange epilogue, I found Richter to be a masterful writer and storyteller, which is why I rated his book 4 out of 4 stars. I think L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century could appeal to a great number of people, particularly adults who enjoy dystopian and science fiction novels. I'm glad that I had the chance to read it.
L.I.F.E. in the 23rd Century
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