The Zone

A Cyberpunk Thriller

Fiction - Dystopia
444 Pages
Reviewed on 07/19/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite

The Zone by Stu Jones is an action-packed, character-driven science fiction story. The book accurately labels itself a “cyberpunk thriller.” The Zone is “cyber” because it deals with hi-tech weaponry. It’s “punk” because it’s set in a gritty and violent future. And it’s a thriller because the story is fast and dangerous. The Zone in the title refers to a section of a futuristic city that has been walled off and designated as the stage for an elaborate reality TV show. It pits violent criminals against an elite group of men and women, called The Enforcers, armed with high-powered weapons, computers, and armor. The story follows Chance Griffin, an honest street cop chosen to become the newest enforcer. Chance accepts the challenge only because of the promised benefits to his wife and newborn son. Chance initially does well as an enforcer but soon becomes aware that nothing on the TV show is as he expected. He must trust his wits and the loyalty of a few friends to stay alive.

Wow, what a fun ride. The Zone by Stu Jones is one of those rare novels that perfectly balances the two story elements that must be present to be considered a great book: strong characters and an equally strong plot. Both elements are present in The Zone and leap off every page to the reader’s delight. The characters are all so well written that I found myself fully invested in them, cheering for the good guys and gals and booing the bad ones. The plot moves forward fast and furious, but never too fast to show the reader the human side of the story to keep it grounded in a futuristic kind of reality. The story could have easily followed a predictable path and become campy, but that’s never the case in The Zone. The story is unpredictable at every turn, always developing in ways that keep me on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what happens next. Last, I loved how the author allowed some of his heroes, especially Chance Griffin, to be motivated by a strong sense of right and wrong. Some might see that as being old-fashioned, but it made me care about his plight all the more. Well done, Stu Jones. I highly recommend The Zone and can’t wait to read volume #2.

K.C. Finn

The Zone: A Cyberpunk Thriller is a work of fiction in the dystopia, science fiction, and action subgenres. Penned by author Stu Jones, it is suitable for the general adult reading audience. We enter at full tilt into a gripping and adrenaline-fueled novel set in a tech-addicted dystopia where sinister corporate overlords control the fate of humanity. In the super-city of Neo Terminus, Enforcers participate in a gladiatorial grudge match known as The Zone, promising wealth and celebrity to those who survive. Our protagonist is Officer Chance Griffin, desperate to save his infant son's life, who reluctantly becomes an Enforcer for The Conglomerate, only to discover a web of deceit and a plot to enslave the citizens of Neo Terminus.

Author Stu Jones creates a vivid and immersive world in a neon-rich setting and high-stakes action that keeps readers on the edge of their seats for a thrilling cyberpunk experience. The relentless pace and intense fight scenes provide an exhilarating reading experience, while the underlying themes of corporate control and the human cost of technological obsession add depth to the narrative. The protagonist, Chance Griffin, is a compelling and relatable character driven by his love for his family. His journey from a struggling cop to a pawn in the corporate machine is filled with suspense and emotional turmoil, pleasingly achieved with stellar narrative and dialogue. Author Stu Jones' masterful storytelling and skillful world-building create a captivating and immersive reading experience. Overall, The Zone is a must-read for fans of cyberpunk and dystopian thrillers, so prepare for a wild ride through a dark and dangerous future where survival comes at a steep price.