There is a secret war raging right under our noses. Our narrator, Joseph, is a soldier in that war however you and I would call him an assassin. At the heart of the novel is the power of propaganda. That people will fight for something without really understanding the why of it. Just that it must be done and to do otherwise is to live in perpetual fear.
Curiosity is not a valued trait in a soldier. What is important is the ability to follow orders without question. With that in mind, it is easy to make the jump to the world Trevor Shane has created. If you are told from a young age that you are fighting against evil, against the people that have killed your family and will not hesitate to kill those you love in the future, would you risk not believing it?
The novel is told in a mix of first and second person narrator and is presented from page one as a journal. Joseph is writing to Maria throughout and often addresses the reader directly with the use of “you”. Once I remembered it was a journal, this did make more sense, but as a female reader I do wonder how it comes across as a male reader being addressed as a woman? The writing in general, did feel very much after the fact and made me think that something had happened which meant Joseph had to write to Maria instead of telling her in person. Of course this helps to keep your eyes glued to the page looking for clues.
Maybe I’m being cynical here but I did feel that the relationship between Joseph and Maria was a bit rushed. The book is fast paced and I don’t think the passage of time is very clear. Looking back, several months did pass by between their meeting and what happens next. The novel uses traditional chapters whereby the journal format doe shave the potential to structure by date or other unit of time.
I’ve come away with more questions than answers, which is not always a bad thing in a book. In short, Children of Paranoia is a pacey thriller with an undercurrent of social commentary.
I have read and reviewed this earlier than I would normally but after a few Twitter exchanges with the author, I felt compelled to read it now. If it takes your fancy, I urge you to add it to your wishlist so you don’t forget! Children of Paranoia is released in hardback 8th September 2011 (UK and US).