Cliffhanger: no, but story ends with possibility of continuing
No. In Series: Stand Alone
Strong Language: Yes
Sexual Situation or Language: No
Suggested Age: Young adult
Special Consideration: Suicidal description
Special Consideration: Animal death
In the near future, far right wing Republicans have taken control of the United States. There is mandatory enlistment, your cellphone monitors everything you do, disagreement with the government results in immediate arrest, police have the right to search unwarranted for non-citizens, and everyone must have a firearm.
Jacob, a deeply depressed man after the disappearing of his wife by the police, has a uninteresting job in a building where he hates his co-workers, and especially his supervisor.
Surprised, he is kidnapped by aliens and endures horrific torture under the guise of medical experimentation.
When he wakes up he finds himself in pod of some sort, inside a crashed vehicle. After extricating himself, he is eventually rescued by a small pack of dogs. He learns all primates died in a plague uncountable number of centuries ago, and animals have evolved to intelligence and speech. He's told by the elephant mystic he has a vitally important job to perform. Accompanied by three dogs and a war elephant he's led, and occasionally pushed, through the sometimes violent journey to complete a prophecy.
In the story one can recognize several common plot devices: the abduction by aliens, (including the anal probe); the last man on earth; the evolution of animals to thinking, speaking, bronze age communities; and a prophecy that once fulfilled will lead to peace and prosperity. War between species, particularly egged on by a sociopathic raccoon, ranges from predator/prey to all on planned invasion. This allows for some vague musings on how violence perpetuates through time and species.
There is a long and pretentious prologue, followed by chapters so unrelentingly grim this reader eventually took to skimming through until the UFO showed up. Even after Jacob wakes up and discovers his situation he remains a cardboard character difficult to engage with. The elephant's entire contribution to the journey is to cheerfully kill whatever he's pointed at, and the dogs to try to make Jacob understand what's going on. It's disappointing Jacob makes so little attempt to learn to communicate with his travel companions.
One of the interesting touches is how each species has developed language based on the noises they made in their ancestry. As such, like in any civilization, there are animals that speak only their own language, and others that speak more than one. Two species meeting where each have only a basic understanding of the other's language recalls two tourists trying to understand what each wants, primarily knowing mostly nouns.
The story is interrupted irregularly by philosophical discussions. Some are directly related to the part of the story in which they appear, and some don't seem to relate to anything. These odd additions, combined with common words used in their older definitions, and uncommon words needing brief research in a dictionary to find the correct definition, jar the narrative. The story would benefit from further editing to smooth out and tighten the story; battles are extensively described but read like a computer game. The story is badly in need of a little humor to break up the endless, violence filled journey.
The ending is not particularly satisfying or believable; it reads as though the author was trying to wind up all the loose ends in the last chapter.
Additional proofreading is needed to correct missing punctuation marks and words that are homonyms, like site/sight and reigns/reins.
This reader feels this story has an interesting plot, but would benefit from re-editing, better proofreading, and reworking some interactions to make Jacob more engaged with what is going on.
Jacob Baxter lives a dull life in a dystopian near-future, toiling away at an unforgiving corporation. One day, things suddenly and violently change for Jacob, and he finds himself on an unwanted journey to save humanity, a journey he does not fully understand, his only friends a pack of dogs. Suggested for mature readers.