I started my indie book reviewing career recently and here we are at book two already. This time we move from memoire to futurism and sci-fi – at least that is how I would categorise this excellent debut.
Second Chance by Dylan Hearn
This novel is set in the not so distant future after a major catastrophe has changed the world’s governance and the balances of power.
This is what the blurb tells us:
Four lives become linked by a student’s disappearance: a politician looking to put integrity back into politics, an investigator hoping to atone for past mistakes, a data cleanser searching for a better life while haunted by his past and a re-life technician creating new lives for old souls.
But it soon becomes clear this is no ordinary case, and in the pursuit of the truth, long-held secrets risk being revealed.
Set in the near future where everybody is connected and death isn’t final, this is the story of how far those in power will go to retain control, and the true price to pay for a Second Chance.
Data Cleanser? Re-Life Technician? These are but some of the imagined changes wrought between now and this future world. At first blush it seems order is being restored after the awful catastrophe but that is a veneer. Dylan’s skill is to embed us with his main characters in this new world, revealing these changes organically and imaginatively without the clunkiness one sometimes finds when the author has to explain what their new world looks like.
You see the thing about Second Chance that I loved, and I’ll be honest and say I don’t buy sci-fi as a rule, is it is about character. We care about these people for all their flaws and vanities. We want to know where they go and why and what happens when they get there.
And along the way we dip into Dylan’s imagination. What would happen if the climate changed so much? How would we get our power? How would we survive? What rights that we take for granted today would we give up for the chance of a future and a peaceful existence? How would the world order shift and politics change? Would big business collapse and some sort of anarcho-collective take over or would it actually thrive and become even more powerful and influential than it is today? Dylan has posed these what ifs and come up with a compelling set of answers that he drip feeds into the narrative while never losing sight of the people and their stories.
At times I’m reminded of JG Ballard at his dystopian best; at times the neatness of an Asimov. But mostly I applaud Dylan on being the first Hearn. He has a world here, ripe for future exploration. Second Chance merely scratches that surface and leaves us wanting to know more as we stay gripped to the real life problems of the characters. What has happened to religion, for instance? It isn’t core to this story – it doesn’t need to be – but it is hard to believe it hasn’t changed and is there influencing events. Dylan has already launched book two – Absent Souls – you never know what layers of this fascinating onion he will strip back next.
Whether you go for sci-fi or futuristic novels or not doesn’t really matter. If you like a good story, a thriller with its heroes and villains and many who flit between then this is for you.
Dylan can be found on his blog here – his writing and indie publishing tips are worth the visit alone.