Official Review: The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any fantasy or science fiction books or series.
Forum rules
You must limit each topic thread in this section to only one book or only one series. Make the title of the topic the name of the book, and if possible also include the author's name. If you want to allow spoilers, you must include the word spoilers in the title of the topic, otherwise spoilers are prohibited.
User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Official Review: The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 02 Jan 2019, 16:07

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Seclusion" by Jacqui Castle.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


As I write, the US Government is shut down over the issue of a proposed border wall. At times like these, science fiction writers may imagine the dystopias that could result from current trends.

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle is set in a near-future version of Tucson, Arizona. Now a police state with a degraded environment, America is secluded within walls spanning both its northern and southern borders. It is controlled by a shadowy entity known as The Board. A society divided into rigid tiers lives under constant camera surveillance. The story opens with an incident where the heroine, 22-year-old geologist Patricia (“Patch”) Collins, is interrogated by a Compliance Officer after lingering too long near the southern wall. Alarmed though she is about getting onto the authorities’ radar, Patricia continues to explore off-camera areas with the hero, her friend Rexx. A find in one of these areas triggers a chain of events that forces the pair to flee.

Patricia and Rexx embark on a perilous journey through a post-apocalyptic America. Castle’s world-building is excellent. She vividly describes the crater left by the 2029 nuclear bombing and a town cracked apart by a fracking-induced earthquake. As well as imagining future disasters and their aftermath, she has coined terms that are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, like “lumicomm” and “idecation”. They are readily understood in context.

The story is narrated in the first person from Patricia's point of view. In addition to evocative descriptions, the style also features many metaphors and similes. These are sometimes a little clichéd, such as when Patricia compares two characters to deer in headlights; I can’t quite see that she would have experienced night-time driving or deer. Maybe. However, she also explains things to the reader in terms that she surely cannot be familiar with. For example, when referring to her credits that always disappear at the end of the month, she remarks that there are no savings and no safety net. Especially since information is tightly controlled by the Board, it seems implausible that she would have any access to these concepts.

Similarly, she tells the reader: “Every single establishment, whether in the food industry or not, existed under the umbrella of America One.” This seems like a fish describing the water it swims in as wet. When she gives the reader information like this, she does not quite ring true as an individual who has been brainwashed her entire life.

Brainwashing and totalitarian control are important themes in this novel. Sometimes it seems a pallid derivative of dystopian greats like The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984. TV presenter Aelia Ramey lacks the brashness of Serena Joy; Patricia’s pity for the “poor saps” watching her eat dinner fails to chill like Winston Smith being admonished through the telescreen.

This is not to say, however, that Castle does not succeed in creating a disturbing world. She absolutely does. A key theme is the Board's inability to control everything. Banned items and inconvenient memories survive; individuals question propaganda and find ways to evade controls. The book is also about how humans persist in the face of fear. Denunciations are encouraged, and the action plays out in a climate crackling with suspicion. Will the people Patricia and Rexx meet turn out to be more like Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale or O’Brien in 1984?

This tension is sustained throughout a novel full of adventures, with a few slower passages where readers can catch their breath along with the protagonists. Patricia’s character develops alongside her growing knowledge. There is some romance in a subplot but no sex; this book could be suitable for young adults. A few scenes detail the violent methods used by totalitarian enforcers, which sensitive readers might find distressing. This novel would appeal to science fiction fans, especially those whose taste runs to dystopian settings.

The editing is excellent – I encountered only a handful of anodyne errors. Despite some flaws in the narrative as described above, this is a gripping tale set in a cleverly constructed world with likeable, relatable characters. Taking all aspects into account, my rating is 3 out of 4 stars. While the story comes to a definite and satisfying end, the scene is set for a sequel, which I’d be more than happy to read.

******
The Seclusion
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on iTunes

Like ButterscotchCherrie's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Helen_Combe
Posts: 2343
Joined: 18 Feb 2018, 12:17
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 150
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: The Martian
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 177
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-helen-combe.html
Latest Review: Four Funny Potatoes! by Len Foley
Reading Device: B00M4L4MFC

Post by Helen_Combe » 05 Jan 2019, 04:07

That sounds like a fascinating book! I saw a joke recently where a library had a sign up saying ’Dystopia has now been moved to Non Fiction’. It’s scary how relevant these stories are becoming. Great review.
A thesaurus is necessary, essential, indispensable, vital, crucial and fundamental.

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 05 Jan 2019, 07:22

Helen_Combe wrote: ↑
05 Jan 2019, 04:07
That sounds like a fascinating book! I saw a joke recently where a library had a sign up saying ’Dystopia has now been moved to Non Fiction’. It’s scary how relevant these stories are becoming. Great review.
I know - the writer possibly wasn't even thinking of Trump's wall when she wrote it. Thanks for your comment.

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 6727
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2019 Reading Goal: 95
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 6
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 94
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: The Fire Prophecy
Bookshelf Size: 242
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: Project Tau by Jude Austin

Post by kandscreeley » 06 Jan 2019, 08:08

It is amazing how authors sometimes predict the future so well. Or perhaps I should say terrifying? Nevertheless, I do love a good Dystopian novel. This seems to fit the bill, and I would be glad to put it on my list. Thanks.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

User avatar
gen_g
Posts: 1480
Joined: 22 Apr 2018, 10:31
Currently Reading: Just Drive
Bookshelf Size: 50
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-gen-g.html
Latest Review: Beyond Absolute by S R Gurney

Post by gen_g » 06 Jan 2019, 12:20

Patricia's character does seem slightly inconsistent, which could be jarring for some. Still, I am really intrigued by this premise, and the fact that Castle's world-building skills are fantastic, I'm definitely picking up this book. Thanks for the review!

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 06 Jan 2019, 12:22

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
06 Jan 2019, 08:08
It is amazing how authors sometimes predict the future so well. Or perhaps I should say terrifying? Nevertheless, I do love a good Dystopian novel. This seems to fit the bill, and I would be glad to put it on my list. Thanks.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 06 Jan 2019, 12:23

gen_g wrote: ↑
06 Jan 2019, 12:20
Patricia's character does seem slightly inconsistent, which could be jarring for some. Still, I am really intrigued by this premise, and the fact that Castle's world-building skills are fantastic, I'm definitely picking up this book. Thanks for the review!
I really enjoyed reading it and hope there will be a sequel. Thanks for your comment!

kdstrack
Posts: 1782
Joined: 10 May 2017, 19:49
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 6
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 106
Currently Reading: A Light in the Window
Bookshelf Size: 195
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kdstrack.html
Latest Review: Hologram Deception by Ed Sheehan

Post by kdstrack » 06 Jan 2019, 19:16

You do an excellent job of highlighting the author's interesting premise. And 2029 is really not that far in the future! This seems like a series worth following. Thanks.

User avatar
Sushan
Posts: 751
Joined: 04 May 2018, 19:13
2019 Reading Goal: 10
2018 Reading Goal: 10
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 230
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Currently Reading: There and Back There Again
Bookshelf Size: 174
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sushan.html
Latest Review: Sigfried’s Smelly Socks! by Len Foley

Post by Sushan » 06 Jan 2019, 22:21

Seemingly an interesting science fiction. Thanks for sharing đź‘Ťđź‘Ť
"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help"

Abraham Lincoln



:techie-studyingbrown: $u$han €kanayak€ :techie-studyingbrown:

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2019, 01:35

kdstrack wrote: ↑
06 Jan 2019, 19:16
You do an excellent job of highlighting the author's interesting premise. And 2029 is really not that far in the future! This seems like a series worth following. Thanks.
Yes, it's quite Orwellian in that sense. There were some characters described as "elders" who I realized would have been born around now. So it really makes you think about where things are going now. I hope this does develop into a series. Thanks for your comment.

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2019, 01:36

Sushan wrote: ↑
06 Jan 2019, 22:21
Seemingly an interesting science fiction. Thanks for sharing đź‘Ťđź‘Ť
It was a great read. Thanks for commenting.

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4683
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 2
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 158
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 551
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Dear American Brother by Joe J. Elder
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 07 Jan 2019, 05:37

Big Brother has become The Board. These writers are scaring me, especially now that I have read The Bible in a Nutshell.

Would anyone be able to go into seclusion?

Would this be Alice's new wonderland?

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2019, 06:15

Intrigued to check out the "Bible in a Nutshell" now! Thanks for reading and commenting.

User avatar
teacherjh
Posts: 1323
Joined: 15 Apr 2018, 23:16
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 100
Currently Reading: The 7 Experiment
Bookshelf Size: 296
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-teacherjh.html
Latest Review: Time Shot by R.K. Johnson

Post by teacherjh » 07 Jan 2019, 12:25

I like dystopian novels, and this one sounds like a winner.

User avatar
ButterscotchCherrie
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2843
Joined: 29 Apr 2017, 02:00
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 8
2018 Reading Goal: 104
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2017 Reading Goal: 50
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Currently Reading: Mindfulness and Sleep
Bookshelf Size: 198
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-butterscotchcherrie.html
Latest Review: Fubar by Kenneth Underwood
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2019, 14:46

teacherjh wrote: ↑
07 Jan 2019, 12:25
I like dystopian novels, and this one sounds like a winner.
Yes, it's really good!

Post Reply

Return to “Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books”