Reviewed by Donna
AUTHOR: Lindsey Black
PUBLISHER: Netherwood Press
LENGTH: 358 Pages
RELEASE DATE: December 27, 2017
The Barricade is all that separates the Northern Russian Empire from what remains of the world’s plague-decimated population. Snaking 8921 kilometres across Eurasia, the Barricade is crafted from the New World’s nanotechnologies. Breathing, thinking, constantly regenerating, it sustains those charged with defending its districts from those desperate to find refuge in the north.
Atop the battlements of District 666, Sasha Stepanova and his team ruthlessly suppress heavy insurgencies, but at a cost. With the loss of one of his men, Sasha feels isolated and adrift. The bitter snows are a harbinger of winter’s early arrival and the town on his southern perimeter is swelling with foreboding shadows.
Transferred from a black operations testing facility, Jett Ioane is not the replacement Sasha is expecting. He’s short, sheltered and untested in battle—a poor replacement for the friend Sasha has lost. But Sasha finds him impossibly alluring. A lifetime of alienation and scrutiny has hardened Jett to the friendship and camaraderie necessary for survival. Struggling to find his feet while Sasha sweeps them out from under him, Jett hesitates to entrust the team with his truth.
Will Jett’s secrets be the key to their salvation, or annihilation?
I have no idea where to begin with this review, because I have a strong feeling that whatever I say isn’t going to do this book justice. I really enjoyed the first two books that Lindsey Black released (Fishy Riot and Rhino Ash), but I think I’d quickly pigeonholed her into that type of story. Entertaining and humorous with a few political jabs thrown in to show the author’s stance on certain current affairs. Barricade is something completely different, and I’m going to say better, than what this author has previously produced.
Firstly, the setting. Ms. Black has created a world (not too distant from now) where the population has been all but wiped out by the Infection. Only the Northern Russian Empire remains unaffected, protected from the rest of the world by the Barricade – a wall they constructed to isolate their “Communist Utopia” after expanding their borders through the decimation of several surrounding countries. The author did such a brilliant job of describing the harsh bleakness of life in a militarized Russian winter wasteland that I actually took my Kindle to sit outside in the sun. Life on the Barricade for these soldiers is lonely and colorless and miserable. Actually, life on either side of the Barricade is just as desolate, as one of the soldiers says – Communist Russia ensures that everyone is equally miserable. So on one side there is safety in a regime that requires parents to surrender their children to harsh military service, and on the other side hundreds of millions of people have died, are still dying, from the Infection. The Barricade is what separates them.
The characters force you to question where your loyalties, as a reader, lie. It’s a battle of the Russian military versus the rest of the world. And when I say the rest of the world, I mean the men, women and children of multiple other nations who gather at the southern side of the Barricade like refugees, denied access to the one place left that is reputed to be safe. Meanwhile the soldiers who guard the wall use their weapons to pick off the refugees as they succumb to the Infection. And these are our main characters. These soldiers who stand between the desperate, dwindling survivors and the so called safety of the Northern Russian Empire. It seems like a no brainer. You support the underdog, the children, the people fighting for their lives. But we get to know the soldiers – the conscripted men, the brainwashed men, the men that wholeheartedly believe they are fighting on the side of good. We see them mourning the loss of one of their own, and we witness them make horrible, hard choices as they do what they believe is right.
This is a story of people at war, with a few bright bursts of happiness thrown in. And those moments of colour (literally, in the case of the paintball attack) mean so much more because a dismal sort of existence surrounds them. It was ridiculous how happy I felt each time the superfluous puffball of a dog made an appearance. I could feel the joy of the soldiers as they playfully launched a paintball attack on the washed out buildings below them. And while the romance between Jett and Sasha wasn’t really the focus of the story, I clung to those moments – as did all the soldiers on the Barricade once they found out.
I truly hope that the author chooses to continue writing stories in this world. While this isn’t unfinished, there are still questions that I want answered about the Barricade itself. Not to mention that we still have no idea what is really going on in the rest of the world. Whether Ms. Black’s next book continues this story, or her first series, or is something entirely new, I’m excited to see what she comes up with next.