It’s Luka Kane’s sixteenth birthday and he’s been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into “Delays”, scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world. But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it’s not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.
Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? He must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.
A few years ago, there was a massive surge in YA dystopian novels, largely off the back of The Hunger Games. I found that I didn’t enjoy most of the books that were seemingly being churned out and constantly cited as the next Hunger Games. Because of this, it’s been a while since I dipped into the genre, but there was something about the synopsis of The Loop that really appealed to me. Pretty much from the first chapter onwards, I was thrilled to find that this book was totally addictive and definitely can proudly hold its head up and stand alongside some of the best known dystopians as an excellent read, well worth taking the time to read!
The idea of The Loop is horrifying. A prison where you have basically no contact with any other human, other than occasionally shouting through the wall during your exercise hour. You have absolutely no idea what has become of your family, with zero contact from anyone in the outside world. Meanwhile you are tortured daily, both mentally and physically, not to mention the horrific experiments every six months that’ll have a mysterious affect on you with no prior warning. Even just thinking about it is making me shudder, and Ben Oliver really brings those horrors completely to life. You can picture yourself alongside Luka and it leaves you with a sincere sense of claustrophobia as you read through the pages.
Luka is a great character. He is clearly kind hearted, and you absolutely can’t help but sympathise with him in his present situation. However, he’s in prison, and you know he’s in prison for a reason, so there is a constant slight doubt in the back of your mind, ‘should I actually like this guy? What did he do?’ Gradually as you meet other characters, it’s the same thing. There is a sense of distrust amongst everyone. Why are they in the Loop, what did they do, do they mean Luka harm or are they genuinely good guys? I love books like this, that lure you into a false sense of security and then dash everything you think you know! And trust me when I say, there are definitely some characters who aren’t all that they seem.
The Loop is completely fast paced and action packed, and some of the twists and turns took me by surprise. It went down a path I truly wasn’t expecting it to, but that just made it all the more gripping. There are some moments that made me shudder, a tunnel full of flesh eating rats for example….eek!! It’s also one of those classic books where it’s best not to get too attached to anyone, because there are plenty of instances where pretty much every character ends up in peril, and not everyone is going to make it out alive. I could ramble for ages about some of these aspects, but they are definitely best entered into blind, as it’s just that little bit more shocking!
Running alongside this world full of terror, was a lot of futurist technology. I really like all the various touches, and the different ways the world had adapted post World War Three. Oliver does a great job of introducing us to this new tech, without it getting confusing, which is always appreciated as some sci-fi novels just expect you to see their vision without putting in the ground work to help you understand. Chief cog in this high tech world is ‘Happy’ an AI program that is Luka’s only company in his cell. Along with the rest of the characters, Happy is definitely all that it first seems. Creepy drones that can cause paralysis before torturing you, guns that can vaporise you, wires in your heart that can self destruct at the click of a button, and those are just a few of the interesting technology that plays a huge part in this world.
A thrilling ride, I’ve already recommended this one to several friends, and it’s so good to have found myself in a new dystopian future that I enjoyed. I absolutely devoured this one, I needed to know what happened to Luka and the gang, and as there is basically no point where it feels like he’s safe, I had no choice but to just keep reading and reading. The ending of the book is no less terrifying than the rest, and I needed to know what happened next instantly. Thankfully, the next book was right next to me and I could continue on this wild journey, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on book two a bit later today!
Thanks to the publishers for the chance to join the tour for this wonderful series, all thoughts are my own!