THE LOOP by Ben Oliver Published by Chicken House

I USED to read a lot of dystopian and more political science fiction-based novels, and would actually describe it as a preference of mine, but those sorts of books have faded from my reading habits.

It was only upon receiving The Loop that my passion and interest for stories like this one was renewed. There are a lot of books that deal with similar themes, many of which I loved, but it was great to see something new in this genre being brought to the table and as soon as I started reading it I knew I had to learn more.

The story is set in a future of such major advancements in technology that people can pay to have alterations made to their body for cosmetic reasons or improved health. To those wealthy enough to have this done (known as Alts) this would seem to be a good thing, but, as is often the case, there’s a darker side to all of it.

In a facility called The Loop, teenage prisoners can put off their death sentence by agreeing to become the test subjects for these surgeries. This arrangement is known as a delay but how long can you really delay the inevitable?

For 16-year-old Luka Kane, it’s only a matter of time before he accepts his fate. He had got into a routine, living every day in the same way, with his only consolation being the kindly warden Wren, who spoke to him and brought him books.

However, things started to change in The Loop. Rumours of a rebellion starting on the outside make their way to the inmates and what were merely futile whispers before start to get louder.

My favourite thing about the plot development was the way writing from Luka’s perspective was used to create sympathy from the reader. The repetitive nature of a lot of the writing reflects his lifestyle in the facility and encouraged an understanding of the situation that could not have been achieved as successfully in any other way.

Luka is an easy character to like, not only because of his difficult circumstances but from his love of books and the way he relies on them for comfort in difficult times. This connection between the main character and the reader makes the book an engaging read.

The plot of The Loop is an interesting warning of what can happen when technology moves so fast that it goes too far. I found that this more haunting aspect of the story was handled with an elegance and clarity that made Luka’s world more realistic and concerning than might otherwise have been the case. Though the complexities of the plot are a little confusing in the beginning the different parts of the story come together well in the later chapters.

The Loop is a unique and brilliant addition to science fiction aimed at young adults that had me emotionally attached to the characters and hooked on the plot. It’s a gripping and rich read that uses an extraordinary writing style to take the reader through all of its twists and turns.