The Loop

book coverBy Jeremy Robert Johnson

** Publication Date 29 September 2020 **

4.5 stars

Turner Falls is a perfect little ski town in the high desert of eastern Oregon. Quaint, friendly, as long as you’re not Lucy or Bucket. Lucy and Bucket are “brown” and outcasts from most of the Turner Falls students. Spring Meadows High School is mostly broken down into the wealthy kids, the burnouts and the nerds. And then there’s Lucy & Bucket.

As such, they’ve bonded over weird things like Bucket’s obsession with porn. They hang out at The Exchange, a retro vinyl store where two other outcasts, Toni and Judah work. Now, they’re going to have the night of their lives as the students celebrate the end of the school year, brought on early by two tragic deaths in the community. The first deemed a “murder/suicide” by a boy who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and the second, in a classroom right before Lucy’s eyes. Lucy watched a mild mannered classmate beat their teacher to death.

What is going wrong in idyllic Turner Falls? Does it have something to do with the recent rise of IMTECH, a biotech company building the next great AI? Whatever it is, Lucy and Bucket are going to have to fight to get through the madness that has consumed this town.

I’ve seen this mentioned as a kind of World War Z meets Stranger Things, which is why I picked up this book. It maybe goes beyond that. Not for everyone with extensive violence, gore, sex and profanity. This isn’t your happy ending teen novel. It depicts a crazy, apocalyptic 24 hours in the lives of a group of people trying to save themselves and their town.

Johnson is clearly a master of this macabre genre, as he kept my attention riveted to this book. Dark and twisty, yes. But impossible to put down. If you’re ready for a trip into the frightening world of AI gone wrong, grab this one.

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