The Wall

Christian - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
303 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Alex Ndirangu for Readers' Favorite

In Brian Penn's The Wall, it is 2099 in the United States, and decades have passed since the once-brilliant beacon of hope and freedom devolved into authoritarianism and enslavement, fueled by greed, negligence, and the desire for immortality. In 2050, science brought about the second-life protocol. This involved giving people a second chance at life after they died. But first-lifers lived dangerously, and leaders resolved to revoke second-life rights. Then Zion's ruler, Renatus, led all first-lifers into The Wall. But the process means taking the life of another—lives Renatus secretly harvests from the MiddleLand. The Middle lies behind a giant, almost square, translucent Wall towering a hundred feet and coursing 100,000 volts from old America's Northern Wyoming to former New Mexico and back. Here, Renatus' contraband laws and his near-invincible army rule with an iron fist, terrorizing a people deemed low-class to the point of hopelessness. In this desolate wasteland, we meet Asher, the last son of the Defiance. This 25-year-old contraband mule is set on finding his lost love (who is on the other side of the Wall) and making those responsible for her "death" pay dearly. But this is a world where any revolt against oppression is shattered, and resistance is met with painful executions. Asher must blindly march into the lion's den to reunite with Sarai and be the leader, the elite warrior he was born to be.
One of the many lessons I gathered from The Wall is that sometimes to survive you have to do things you'd consider dishonorable under normal conditions. There were several heart-wrenching moments, and this book kept me glued from the first pages to the last. Penn's characters evoke emotions, and the descriptions are so vivid that you can almost hear whining drones in the distance and sense the turmoil and carnage coursing through the coliseum. For every next minute he's alive, Asher must traverse trials set to kill in an instant and take down blood-lusting warlords and gladiators. Every step is fraught with disaster yet propelled by hope and determination. Every moving part builds to a climactic, worthwhile end, and the narrative is told by crafting together key players' perspectives, immersing readers even deeper in the moment. If you enjoy fast-paced action, adventure, thrills, and feats with the highest stakes, check out this award-winning dystopian novel by Brian Penn. I would not recommend it to sensitive readers because of the gory battle scenes.