28 May 2012

Review: Swipe by Evan Angler

Swipeis set in a technologically advanced near-future dystopia, in which all those over the age of thirteen Pledge their allegiance to the unified world government and receive the Mark, which enables them to vote, purchase goods, hold a job and a range of other ‘privileges’. The Markless, those who have chosen not to Pledge, are forced to survive on the edges of society.

Logan Langley will soon turn thirteen and take his Pledge. Most kids his age are excited, but he is nervous – his older sister, Lily, never returned from her Pledge, and he has had the feeling he is being watched ever since. As a result, he feels increasingly isolated at school, although the new girl, Erin, catches his interest. Although she is already Marked, she resents her new home, a result of her father’s promotion. He does Government work – for the Department of Marked Emergencies (DOME), who control the Mark programme and associated problems. Little do Logan and Erin know that their combined problems are about to bring them together…

As dystopian fiction, Swipeplays homage to authors such as John Wyndham. John Christopher and Lois Lowry, as well as the more obvious similarities to the Left Behind series based on their common base in the Mark of the Beast prophesied in St. John’s Revelation. Swipe’s futuristic world is well-imagined, with a combination of the new, the familiar and the adapted (e.g. the children playing rock-tablet-laser instead of rock-scissor-paper). I found that the early development of the world of the Marked detracts from the development of the characters and the plot, but the book improved and picked up pace as the story progressed.

Swipehas been described as “the Christian alternative to The Hunger Games.”

It isn’t.

Although I have purchased The Hunger Games trilogy, I have yet to read it (long story). But I know it is clearly aimed at a teenage (Young Adult) audience, both in terms of the themes and the age of the main characters. Logan, the central character in Swipe, is just twelve, which suggests its target audience is younger (Middle Grade). My view is that the level of peril is just too low to attract the typical teenager, although future books may well ‘grow’ with the reader, as the Harry Potter books did.

Overall, Swipeis a good read, set in a world where there is no war, no conflict and no religion. It’s a sound debut novel in a popular genre. Readable, interesting even, but not original or memorable like the dystopian fiction I read as a teen.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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