3 out of 4 stars
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With so much occurring in our nation daily, we often wonder what the future will be like. Where is our country headed? News stories like the church shooting in Rural Texas or the Las Vegas massacre are all too common. How will all of this play out?
Bleed Out is a fictional answer to that question. Straughn Bowman shares with the reader where he thinks the United States is heading if something doesn't change. I will warn you... I don't think you'll like his view of the future.
The book follows 5 different characters during a country in chaos. America is facing its second civil war; it's every man for himself. Jacob and Danny are in one of the countries' only safe zones. They help patrol the neighborhood to keep any potential threats at bay. Unfortunately, a massive mob overtakes the city, and Jacob and Danny are forced to take their families and flee.
Bob is Secretary of Defense of the newly formed Texarkana which encompasses Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kansas and Texas. New Orleans doesn't want to be a part of Texarkana, but President Chambliss is determined not to let them leave. President Chambliss puts Bob in charge of making this happen by hook or by crook. He might have to face the current President Cullen (of the former United States) to do so.
Travis owns a farm, but his family left him to go back to their hometown in Texas. A neighbor named Jimmy has a business proposition for him. Jimmy is determined that they will profit during this chaotic time in spite of who they might hurt to do so. Travis is more than willing to go along with his plan.
Baker is just trying to survive after the American government abandoned his part of the country. He must take care of his wife Anna, now. Sadly, he stumbles upon a group of men terrorizing others; this group doesn't want their secret found out. Now Baker and his wife Anna are forced to flee their comfortable home in search of someplace safe. But is there any safe place left?
Michi is the last character that we follow. He is in one of the countries' quarantine zones. As such, he isn't allowed to leave; the National Guard is patrolling the perimeter of this zone. In order to be comfortable during this quarantine, he and his gang ransack, steal and loot from neighboring families. One of his gang has his own agenda, though, and goes a bit too far for Michi's taste. Now his family's lives are on the line.
The book moves along at a swift pace, and the action begins within a few pages of the start of the book. It doesn't let up until the cliffhanger ending leaving the reader wanting to know more. The narration is in the third person point of view, and the author switches between characters often. Fortunately, each time the perspective shifts, a new chapter starts. This helps the reader to be able to follow along with the multiple viewpoints more easily. I found it enjoyable to see this new world from multiple perspectives as it helps to grasp the enormity of what is happening in the country.
As far as the plot, I found it to be realistic, for the most part. There is a good bit of violence in this new world, but not everyone in this world is evil. The author chose a good balance of characters - both the morally upright and the criminally insane. This made the book feel more plausible.
The writing was professional with few errors in the text. While I could tell that the author knew his subject well and wrote with passion, I felt that, at times, the author gets carried away. Travis is a certified psychopath, and some of his escapades turned my stomach. The violence was very descriptive with discussions of entrails, tearing of muscle tissues and bone as well as bits of men's brains being splattered here, there and yonder. The level of description, while enthralling to some, was just too much for me.
Overall, I rate Bleed Out a 3 out of 4 stars. The novel kept my attention. Even when I was forced to lay it aside for a while, I felt myself being drawn back as any good book will do. It lost a star due to the intensely violent scenes that were described in stunning detail. The balance between the "normal" good characters and the evil ones kept it from losing another star; I liked this nice mix of positive and negative. I would recommend this to all lovers of dystopian fiction who don't mind a bit of graphic violence. The author has another in this series planned, but I have yet to see it on Amazon. I would be interested in continuing to follow the lives of these characters in hopes that the country can turn itself around.
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