All wars have rules.
Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders. Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of 18.
Break the rules, become the target
Since the age of 18, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn't fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides-one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.
Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he's one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he's sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his singleminded, bloody purpose fades away. Before Maria, Joseph's only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world.
As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the War... is leaving it.
©2011 Trevor Shane (P)2011 Penguin
Children of Paranoia a chilling tale that could be taking place right here and now. The book is non-stop action in a world a little too similar to our own that explores themes of duty, love, fanaticism, and revenge.
The story follows Joseph as he goes about his job as an assassin and keeps a record in his journal. He's good at his work but gets no enjoyment from killing. I enjoyed the meticulous planing and carrying out of his assignments, but the journal framework took away a lot of the suspense since Joseph had to survive in order to write his story.
Joseph isn't the smartest or most fearless of his colleagues, and his boredom and depression really come through. He's in his 20's, and the juxtaposition between his job as a ruthless killer and his complete lack of social skills in normal life led to some funny situations. There are obvious parallels between the war Joseph is fighting and religious wars past and present, but Joseph's cult provides none of the community, philosophy, or history supplied by actual religious organizations to inspire such fervent devotion. Instead, Joseph is paranoid with no delusions he can ever be safe.
Reading: Steven Boyer reads the majority of the book with Emma Galvin covering the prologue and epilogue. This is the first time I've listened to Steven Boyer, and I liked his reading. His voice sounds young and is well suited to express both Joseph's deliberation and his depression. Emma Galvin's direct reading style really moved along her short sections.
Final thoughts: Full of violence and action, this dystopian portrait-of-a-life didn't provide enough information on the whys of the world to keep me engaged.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5
This book read like the self referential internal fantasy world of a twenty something young man experiencing a schizophrenic break. The breathy, teen angst feeling narration doesn't help.
No exposition of the bad guys or the good guys ever took place. He can trust no one but himself, he kills people because he decides based on feeling and an internal and untestable logic that they're the bad guys.
What makes the book a little frightening, is that while the plot and story are externally unbelievable to the point of silliness, the internal logic could very easily be the sort that drives a delusional young person who needs medical help and doesn't get it to go on a killing spree.
If the author had spent a lot more time exposing the good/bad guys, and built the story toward some kind of conclusion where the ostensible hero confronts and overcomes that mysterious organization than maybe it could have been a fun bit of escapism. As it stands, it was a depressing tour of the mind of a dangerous crazy person.
I am an audiobook enthusiast who reviews audiobooks for his blog, The Guilded Earlobe. You can find me on Twitter @guildedearlobe talking about zombies, robots, monkeys and audiobooks.
Children of Paranoia is a thriller that can appeal to readers of all types. It’s full of everything a reader could want in a tale, adventure, romance, and a lot of great action. Its style translate smoothly to audio and narrator Steven Boyer captures the main character perfectly.
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