The Detainee – Peter Liney
Release date: August 12th 2013
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Age Group: Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
The Island is hopelessness. The Island is death. And it is to this place that all the elderly and infirm are shipped, the scapegoats for the collapse of society. There’s no escape, not from the punishment satellites that deliver instant judgement for any crime—including trying to get off the Island—and not from the demons that come on foggy nights, when the satellites are all but blind.
But when one of the Island’s inhabitants, aging “Big Guy” Clancy, finds a network of tunnels beneath the waste, there is suddenly hope, for love, for escape . . . and for the chance to fight back.
Review (contains spoilers):
‘The Detainee’ is a heartbreaking dystopian story about survival, cruelty and slowly regaining a little bit of hope.
Clancy is an unusual main character, a sixty three year old Detainee who is stuck on an island with all the other elderly people, all the garbage from the mainland and the cruel kids who have to sift through it. When the fog rolls in and the punishment satellites can’t see any crimes happening, the kids go wild on drugs and start raiding the Village where the elder people live. Murder, pain and hopelessness are daily business for the people in the Village. There’s no way to get off the island and there’s no way to escape the murdering children. Clancy has given up. He was a Big Guy, a thug in his former life, but now he’s nothing more than a bag of bones, sagging muscles and loose skin.
What I liked: ‘The Detainee’ has a very strong, gripping beginning, throwing us right in the middle of the fog mayhem in the Village. It’s amazing how involved I felt in the story. The fear, the strong urge for survival even though all hope seems lost, it stirs up some strong emotions.
The story is one big monologue. And not the kind where you’re in somebody’s head and follow the story through his or her eyes, Clancy’s actually telling us his story, which gives it that realistic touch. If you look at the setting of the story, that’s kind of scary, because sometimes I believed that what Clancy was going through is a plausible future.
What I didn’t like that much: The age difference between Clancy and Lena kept nagging me. It’s the same difference between me and my father and it sort of seemed wrong. I can see why in those circumstances it may have mattered less, but it did feel weird to read about it. Though I have to admit they make an adorable couple, the age difference was just a bit much for me.
The repetitiveness of some words (helluva,…) bugged me sometimes, but it kind of fit the narrative voice of the book, so I’m willing to forgive that. Otherwise this book is beautifully written, Peter Liney knows his way around words and I enjoyed the writing style very much.
The ending. There are two things I want to say about it. When the plan at the end began unraveling I had the feeling there were a bit too many coincidences to still be realistic. Everything seemed to fall a bit too easy in to place. (Spoiler! The Wastelords are almost at the entrance and then the fog suddenly decides to appear after several days/weeks without any?). The satellites and what happened to them seemed the only plausible, realistic course of action to me. All this aside, I did like the way the author ended the book, in the very last pages the sense of freedom was spilling of the pages, making even me feel giddy. I wonder what’ll happen next, and since this is a trilogy, I guess we’ll have to wait for the second book to find out if the Mainland will just let this happen.
‘The Detainee’ is a fast read, and one I certainly enjoyed, though I have some remarks about certain things. It is kind of a sad book, very emotional and, although it’s a depressing thought, the story doesn’t seem all that farfetched.
I don’t think this is a re-read book for me, but I am glad I had the opportunity to read it and I will be keeping an eye out for Peter Liney’s other work.