Bullying, Diversity, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, YA Fiction
Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 29th, 2020
Synopsis: Stranger Things meets World War Z in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.
Turner Falls is a small tourist town, nestled in the hills of western Oregon, the kind of town you escape to for vacation. When an inexplicable outbreak rapidly develops, this idyllic town becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence as the teenage children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and aggressively murderous. Suddenly the town is on edge, and Lucy and her friends must do everything it takes just to fight through the night.
The Loop isn’t simply a Stranger Things/World War Z knockoff. No. Jeremy Robert Johnson has taken the whole teen misfits and zombie tropes, and spun it into something completely unique. This upcoming sci-fi/horror throws in: biological warfare, government overreach, conspiracies, social stigmas, greed and hubris, depraved indifference, aliens… You name it, it’s in here. But instead of devolving into a mess like many stories with a multitude of ingredients, Johnson skillfully blends everything into a compelling narrative that will immediately draw you in from the very first page.
Lucy is at turns vulnerable, yet badass, and readers will root for her. While her backstory is tragic, she refuses to let it define her. Bucket and Brewer as her sidekicks, provide a bit of intermittent comic relief which is needed because the events that unfold mainly over one night are utterly brutal and difficult to read at times.
While the first 25% of the book is spent more on setting up the characters and their backgrounds, by no means is it boring. Thanks to the interesting personalities and snappy dialogue, this serves as a chance to connect with them before all hell breaks loose. The pace quickly kicks into a non-stop, pulse-pounding, frenetic sequence of events that makes it nearly impossible to put this down. I devoured this in just over two hours! The ending is no happily-ever-after, but it’s the only rational outcome.
The Loop is not going to be for everyone. It’s filled with graphic violence and a few scenes had me wincing. And not all the questions raised are answered. Rather, the author leaves a few things up to the reader’s imagination. Because of the savagely gory nature of this tale, I would not recommend this to anyone under the age of sixteen. Otherwise, if you’re a fan of hardcore sci-fi horror, like Stephen King’s The Cell, and things like the Alien movies don’t faze you, I HIGHLY recommend The Loop. Just don’t expect to be able to sleep immediately after you finish!
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