Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: TAG by Simon Royle

 4 of 5 stars
Big brother is watching.  Author Simon Royale takes this premise to a new and terrifying reality in his novel Tag.  Fast forward into the next century and we find all humans are identified by their PUI (Personal Unique Identifier). The government knows everything about you, everywhere you go, everything you buy, literally everything.  A scary thought in itself.

Book blurb:  In the wake of Arbitrator Jonah Oliver’s interrogation of Jibril Muraz, a prisoner of UNPOL, his secure life disintegrates into one of lies, corruption, conspiracy and murder due to what he learns.
Jonah is thrown into a race against the clock to stop a plot designed to eliminate two-thirds of the population. The odds are stacked against him. He soon finds his past is not what he thought it was, those closest to him cannot be trusted, and what he’s learned could get him, or worse, his loved ones, killed.
I was drawn into the story immediately with the interrogation of Jabril Muraz by Agent Sharon Cochran. When she can't get him to talk even under a Truth Treatment, arbitrator Jonah Oliver is called in to try and get information from him, and that's when he's thrown into a race against time to stop the elimination of 2/3 of the world's population begins.  
Mr. Royle describes what our world will look like in the next century with such detail and precision.  Traveling to the moon base is a commonplace occurrence.  It is during a trip to the moon that Jonah learns the truth from the mysterious Jabril Muraz about the new Tag Law that his uncle, Sir Thomas Oliver, and the government want to implement.  Jabril is not the terrorist he's been labeled as, but Jonah must decide if he believes him and his wild tales of mass extinction. During that short trip to the moon, Jonah meets the love of his life, Marika.  These two events juxtapositioned against each other show the harsh realities of their world, but also that there is room for love in these trying times. Marika is a complex character who finds herself pulled in two different directions - her loyalty to Sharon Cochran and her UNPOL job versus her growing love for Jonah.  She is going to be forced by events to make the difficult decision which direction she wants her life to go in.
The cast of supporting characters of Sharon, Marika, Marty, and Maloo are rich and add to the enjoyment of this story.  The descriptions of the locations are well done and you can easily imagine yourself living in this new world.
I do have a few slight criticisms.   First, I found the switching between third-person and first-person for the Jonah specific chapters to be jarring.  It took me awhile to get used to that.  Also a few of Jonah's shopping trips were a bit boring and did nothing to move the plot forward.  I kept expecting something to happen during these scenes, but I understand that the author was just trying to describe life in this future world.  
This is a fast-paced thriller with many surprises along the way.  I found myself unable to put my Kindle down as I got near the end.  I would definitely recommend this book for those who like sci-fi, action adventure and thrillers.  It is extremely well-written and impressive debut.