Screams The Machine (Dystopian)

Title: Screams The Machine | Author: Sam Mortimer | Publisher: Sirens Call Publications | Pub. Date: 11/07/2016 | Pages: 130 | ISBN13: 9781370937301 | Genre: Dystopian | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration

Screams The Machine

Cash carries a disease; one that’s already killed a large majority of the population and something needs to be done. To stop the crisis from escalating, The Solution (a worldwide organization) is formed and rises to great power. They monitor people’s dreams and shape reality to fit their own wants and needs. In an effort to control existence itself, The Solution is searching for what they believe to be the ultimate tool; a person with the ability to master a deep connection with the mysterious, pervasive energy known only as The Ultimate Reality.

Watching her neighborhood decay, her friends and family perish, Elizabeth Reznik needs to find meaning in her life. She discovers her existence is more meaningful than she could ever have imagined. Operatives of The Solution seek her out, take her from her home and perform brutal experiments on her. Their conclusion? Elizabeth is the one they have been searching for; she is the key to gaining complete power.

The stratagem of The Solution is single minded – own the resources and you own the people. And the last resource available is free will. They will own your thoughts, they will orchestrate your dreams; they will dine on your fears. But there is always a cog in the machine… or in this case, a scream.

Screams The Machine Review

First, the good. I like the cover and the writing is serviceable. I wish I could say more about it’s good points but, sadly, it lacks most of them.

The synopsis is the most description of the Cash Sickness and it’s effects that the book tells you. The pacing is middling. It keeps up a steady flow throughout but it doesn’t help the book any. Characters are introduced but with no backstory involved. The characters are not engaging at all. There seems to be a rebellion of sorts against The Solution but there’s very little reason given as to why. The three ‘main’ characters, Elizabeth, Randal and Alex are little more than puppets being moved around the barely there plot.

The world-building is non-existent. Elizabeth buys stuff using an RFID chip but where she gets the money from (no occupation is mentioned) and what her daily life entails are very vague. But we do get descriptions of her nice clothes!  There’s a brief scene outside but it goes by so fast that it’s hardly there and doesn’t even seem to fit in with the little of the world that is explained.

Their world is apparently run by a woman named Dr. Reverence whom we meet once. The main goal seems to be to connect Elizabeth to The All, whatever that is. The technology is largely unexplained because they seem to be able to use The All however they see fit in any given situation. Ditto for any other bit of tech mentioned in the book. I don’t need heavily detailed descriptions but a hint here and there would be nice.

It’s also unclear why exactly the rebellion is, well, rebelling. The Solution, headed by Dr. Reverence, does seem to have quite a bit of control but from the minimal description in the book it doesn’t sound that bad. There’s no real reasons given for why it’s evil and must be stopped. A couple pages here and there as to why The Solution is a problem would have gone a long way.

It’s a mish-mash of scenes with no explanation, no purpose and no development. It’s not even that originally conceived. The RMS ‘killing machines’ seem to be a cross of ED-209 from Robocop mixed with the Dementors from Harry Potter. The All reminds me strongly of The Matrix and Elizabeth heavily reminds me of Neo with a dash of Alma from the F.E.A.R. video game series. Elizabeth is also the ‘key’ to Ultimate Reality. Whatever that is. It’s not explained very well. The concept of The All and Ultimate Reality also seem to be heavily influenced by Metal Gear Solid.

The writing is decent but average. It could stand a bit better of a proofreader though as I ran into sentences like: “She couldn’t deny that she did. She felt an urge to go.” Then a sentence later: “Even if she felt the urge to go, which she didn’t, she doubted she ever would.” Also, during a firefight: “Randal and Christopher M opened wide, eating holes through the larger machines torso” I think they wanted “Opened fire” and “Opened wide” really brings up some amusing images. Apparently they ate the machine to death.

There are also capitalized words to make them seem more important. Like Dysfunction Anger, The Solution, The State of Chaos. Of course, none of this is explained what exactly happened during The State of Chaos or why another might deem someone else Unfortunately Positive.

I can’t really say I can recommend it to anyone. Sometimes a book seems good but it just doesn’t click with me, personally. This is a rare instance where it is just not good. Unless you like zero world building, flat characters and no sense as to the actual conflict of the book. Then knock yourselves out.

2 out of 5 Skulls


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