***Disclaimer: All Opinions Expressed Are My Own.***
“Did you ever experience Hell?” – Michael Leslie Karnes, One Nation
One Nation is a futuristic thriller set in America. Following the Second American Revolution, America is now under the grip of the Freedom Party and policed by the tyrannical National Police. However, far from bestowing freedom, as the party title would have you believe, under the party rules basic civil rights and liberties have been curtailed with citizens being divided into class segregation and their movements monitored by use of an identity chip. Food is rationed and meat especially, is a scarcity. The protagonist of the story, Jennifer Hanson, “a society type,” is one of the lucky ones. Married to Matt, a political operative of the Freedom Party, although her lifestyle is repressed compared to others, she is one of the more fortunate ones.
This all goes awry though when she attends a lavish dinner party with Matt. Her friend’s father, Attorney David Lewis, an outspoken advocate for the what is considered an “outdated” concept of Democracy frowned upon by the Freedom Party, engages in conversation with a leader. However, his comments soon upset the prestigious guest for whom the dinner party is for. His remarks, although honest, are interpreted as sedition and David is arrested soon after. Yet, this is detrimental to Jennifer as under the regime, everyone associated or friends with David and his family, comes under suspicion. As Jennifer is a childhood friends with David’s daughter, Maggie, she is unfairly implicated and brought under investigation.
When Maggie confides to Jennifer her plan to escape to Cuba with the help of the mysterious Diablo5, after her father “disappears” Jennifer finds herself under scrutiny. In the aftermath of Maggie’s departure, she is brought in for questioning about her friend’s whereabouts and is interrogated by Chief Inspector Jennings, a man who gets off on torturing his victims. Jennifer suffers incredibly brutal injuries through his cross examination and fears for her life. She is duly her released, when her husband calls in favours but her nightmare is just beginning. Jennifer’s finds her life in peril. Shunned by the Freedom Party, watched by the police, her status is demoted and she is denied privileges.
In desperation, Jennifer hatches a plan to vanish with her husband, like Maggie. She remembers her friend’s plea to look for Diablo5 to enable this and is lead into a shady world of the rebel underground. The couple decide to flee and go on the run with the enigmatic people smuggler. Yet, they find they are soon labelled as fugitives with a bounty on their head and pursued by the Police, led by the evil Chief Inspector Jennings, who is determined to settle a score. Jennifer finds that there is no way back and her life as she knew it is now just a memory. But with a price on her head, no guarantee of safety and a sadistic cop wanting revenge, Jennifer is plunged into dangerous territory, at the mercy of dubious people who have their own agenda and whose motives are not always based on trust…
What to say about this book? It was well plotted and a very exciting read which kept the reader on the edge of their seat throughout. It reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984: the society which is depicted is ruled by an extremely domineering regime and those who fail to adhere to its command find themselves facing brutal consequences or even death. There were some really intense scenes in the novel. Jennifer was a very strong, fiery protagonist whose character changes incredibly through the course of the book: at first, she is a privileged wife of a party member but as she goes on the run, her life changes inexplicably and she has to draw on inner strength to face the violence and carnage she witnesses.
The book really had some heart in your mouth moments and Chief Inspector Jennings was a particularly vile and odious character who possessed the traits of a zealous dominator, determined to mete out punishment. The scenes between Jennifer and him were extremely cruel and although fierce, were nevertheless powerfully compelling. This book really made you think and was a very realistic and insightful portrayal of what it would mean to individuals if such a tyrannical and unjust system was ever to be implemented. Wonderful entertainment and with a very unexpected conclusion, this is definitely worth a read.
***However, due to the sexual and violent content, would not recommend for a younger audience.