Saturday 26 February 2022


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The Block by Ben Oliver   {Reviewed by STELLA}
You can run, you can hide, but eventually Happy will find you. Luka and his friends made it out of The Loop in book one of this trilogy to join an uprising — a revolution of the Regulars against the Alts and Galen Rye’s plans. Yet Luka’s freedom was short-lived and now he’s imprisoned again — you can’t always escape super soldiers no matter how determined you are — this time in The Block. If you thought The Loop was repressive, it’s a walk in the park compared with Luka Kane’s new residence. Hours paralysed on a bed, only to be awoken for energy harvesting and mind games are taking a toll on Luka’s sanity and his desire to find The Missing is a distant dream. So is the chance he’ll ever see his friends again, in particular Kina. Yet the unthinkable happens and he finds someone he can outwit — someone who empathises — just in time for a daring rescue. Although is this just another simulation from Happy? Is it real? Well, it turns out that it is, and once again Luka is in hiding and trying to find a way to avoid the wave of destruction that is bearing down on him, and those that don’t wish to be absorbed into the new world dictated to them by a corrupt, and possibly insane, entity. There are more daring explorations in the ruined city, a hiding place through a maze of underground tunnels, and a new plan to find The Missing while avoiding the increasing surveillance of Happy. Drones are everywhere (only one is a friend), as are Alt soldiers, and the AI, Happy, is up to something sinister at the Arc. Luka finds himself propelled into taking things into his own hands, even though it means he will need to abandon his friends again. To save them, he must go his own way and Tyco — his nemesis — has turned up again. stronger and more dangerous. Can Luka keep his promise to Kina? Can he find his sister, Molly, and what is the strange place called Purgatory? The second book in this trilogy is just as action-packed and fast-paced as The Loop, with plenty of emotional heft and some humour to temper the more gruesome moments and weighty themes. No surprise the second book ends on a cliffhanger! Roll on the third.

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