Narrator: Todd Menesses
Publisher: Dean Warren (2014)
Length: 11 hours 9 minutes
Series: Book 1 The Pacification of Earth
Set in 2090 North America, the population is divided into the Haves and the Have-nots. Tech and computers have greatly reduced the need for workers and lower management. The population has exploded. Those that are reliant on government housing and food (welfare) are called Welfies. They have little to no schooling and no training. They are not seen as contributors to society by the Achievers. This upper class has better food, better housing, schooling, and training. But things are about to change.
This tale is mostly about Benjamin Bjorn and his family, and their climb to fame and revolution. Bjorn relies heavily on the wisdom of his Uncle Will and his many connections. Through their eyes, we see how grueling life in the Welfie ghettos are and the obvious motivations for changing things. Bjorn joins the marines and life deals him harsh cards at first, forcing him into situations where he must either follow orders or follow his conscience. He’s your typical underdog hero and so his plot line is rather predictable. I still cheered for him.
There’s a few other characters like Uncle Will who have just a touch of shadiness and I found them more interesting because you had to figure out what they wanted out of any specific situation. Indeed, later on there is even some betrayal. Still, once the sides are sorted out (those that want change versus those that want to keep the status quo), things are pretty predictable.
There are a handful of ladies. A few are even in positions of power, though they don’t get to make many decisions. Nearly all of them are primarily described via their looks (instead of abilities) and mostly they think and talk about how to keep their men happy. There was one really cool female character who was competent at her job and focused on it but she lasted less than a chapter. Sigh….
Lastly, I had an issue with the underlying premise of the story. The Welfies don’t work and therefore, don’t contribute to society. Well, whenever you get a large group of people that have no official work, many still feel compelled to create, no matter their material wealth. So, I found it a little hard to believe that they didn’t have the best booze, or food, or arts & crafts, or childcare services, etc. Yet none of that culture was really described. The closest the story narrative came was to repeatedly referring to the Welfie accent. However, this didn’t come through clearly as the Welfies had the same level of vocabulary and grammar as the Achievers.
Over all, it is an interesting idea for a near-future book but lacks the detailed fleshing out. I found many of the character plot lines predictable and most of the women vapid. The pacing was good, having a mix of inner contemplation, action, political intrigue, and sexytimes.
The Narration: Todd Menesses was fine for this book. He did a nice job of imparting regional accents to the characters. His male and female voices were both believable and distinct.
What I Liked: Interesting idea of a near-future America; underdog hero; cover art.
What I Disliked: The ladies are mostly concerned about the men; the plot lines are mostly predictable; the Welfie culture lacks definition.
What Others Think: