The Loop (The Loop, #1)
It's Luka Kane's sixteenth birthday and he's been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into "Delays", scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world.But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it's not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? In a thrilling shift, he must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.
Luka is hanging on as best he can, living his life as much as he can within The Loop. He begins to overhear rumors of war - something unheard of since the third world war, which decimated the population and resulted in one government. There is nothing left to fight for - or so he thinks. When a Delay is provided off schedule and things begin to change, the prisoners of The Loop will have to figure out how to survive under new conditions and understand what is happening in the world they left behind.
What I loved: The premise and plot of this book hooked me from the first page, and I was all-in to figure out what is going on in The Loop and the world in this dangerous future. The cracks in the seeming perfection become readily apparent in discerning how wealth has drastically separated Alts (people who could afford genetically designed offspring and technological upgrades) and Regulars (those who could not) in housing, job opportunities, and healthcare. These themes along with those of prison reform and humane treatment of inmates are really strong and thought-provoking.
I found Luka to be particularly compelling. We see the world from his point-of-view, which is sometimes naïve and hopeful and other times really cynical - all to be expected. The other characters play a more minor role in the story, as this is really about his journey.
As a note, there are some really tough scenes in the book, related to torture, punishment, inhumane treatment of prisoners (children), unethical experimentation, murder, and war. It does have thriller/horror elements through these things, as a heads up for sensitive audiences.
Final verdict: Action-packed and highly engaging, THE LOOP is a thought-provoking sci-fi/dystopian series that I am eager to continue. Highly recommend for fans of THE MAZE RUNNER, THE 5TH WAVE, and EVE.