Buy The Seclusion
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Reviewer: Melissa on Oct. 2, 2018
Rating: 3.5-4 out of 5 stars
Pitched to me as a new YA novel for fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984, you can pet that The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle peeked my interest when I first heard about it. While I’ve never read 1984, I’ve been a huge fan of Atwood’s writing ever since reading The Handmaid’s Tale in university, and recently, I’ve become an equal fan of the TV show based on the book, so you can bet that I paid attention. When I learned that the book was inspired by current events in the US, but set in the year 2090 after the United States has become completely closed off to other countries, I knew that I had to take a look, and I’m honestly glad that I did.
The Seclusion was an intense book. From the first few pages, I was hooked on the story, and the clearly delineated dystopian world that Patricia ‘Patch’ and her co-worker Rexx finds themselves in once the blinders about what actually is happening in their country and around the world come off. You see Patch has always believed everything that her government tells her: other countries around the world are killing their citizens, North Korea bombed the United States, and the only thing keeping them safe are the four feet deep, ten feet tall, and thousands of feet long border walls to the north and south of the country and various surveillance methods are the only things keeping the US citizens safe. But one day while one duty, her and Rexx come upon a jeep that was hidden just outside of the city complete with contraband items, like a box of books that are banned because they were written before the seclusion of the United States happened, and other materials that she’s never seen before. And with the opening sentences of A Tale of Two Cities and a few other titles in her mind, she’s compelled to steal a copy of Les Misérables, Patch and Rexx set out on a high stakes journey to find the truth at any cost.
Beyond the set up of the novel and the world itself, which were both super compelling, I couldn’t help but find the board members who have taken over control of the country to be completely creepy the further along Patch and Rexx get on their journey. Seriously, this can’t be emphasized enough. Throughout the story, Jacqui Castle demonstrates again and again that she knows how to offer tension exactly when the story needs it in a way that is truly masterful. Of course, the tension isn’t only of the dangerous kind because along the way, Patch and Rexx become closer in ways that will appeal to those who like a little romance with their dystopian YA novels. Clearly there is a lot to love about The Seclusion.
While I was reading the ARC of the book, there were a few things that took me out of the story occasionally. First and foremost, I thought it was unbelievable that even though Patch has never seen anyone around the age of 80 or more, she refers to a few people she meets as being in their 80s before speaking to them and learning their actual ages, which frankly, makes no sense. She would have no way to guess their ages based on what she had experienced of the world thus far. In addition, there were occasional errors that I assume would be corrected in the final version of the novel. I also found it odd that even in the finished copy of the book that the publisher didn’t include copyright information for quotations from books such as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. That said, these issues did take me out of the story.
Despite these issues, I did really enjoy The Seclusion and I’m glad that I took a chance on an indie publisher and author, and I really hope that other readers do, too. While this novel can certainly be read as a standalone since Patch’s main journey has come to a close, I wonder if there will be a sequel or at least a novella, which gives a little more context about what happens after Patch settles into her destination for herself and the rest of the American people. Why? Well, simply because I would, selfishly perhaps, love to read more from this author and in this world.
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