All Roads Lead to Nowhere
New Degree Press (2021)
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (08/2022)
“All Roads Lead to Nowhere” by Alexander Skikos is a chilling, post-apocalyptic portrayal of America that takes place not too far in the distant future. It is the mid-21st century and six different people are doing their best to survive in a world where the United States is no longer free. Instead, Russia and China have succeeded in toppling the superpower of America and crushing it into “Paradise Cities,” where only the rich and powerful can be lucky enough to live safely, and everywhere else outside the walls, in the wastelands of Nowhere.
In “All Roads Lead to Nowhere,” we meet Levi, a corporate bigwig who is being hunted as a whistleblower by a big, powerful corporate tyrant and Ali, a young man who has dedicated himself to helping the less fortunate masses forced to withstand the harsh dangers outside the walls of the Paradise Cities find safety and new means of survival by sneaking them inside the very city walls the corporate giants try to use to keep out the riffraff. We meet a President forced to lie to his people about having hope in a war that has already been lost; Janet, a young journalist who is accused of committing a murder she most certainly did not; and even more faces from varied backgrounds and walks of life.
One thing all the characters seemed to have in common in “All Roads Lead to Nowhere” was this underlying fear of who might be watching or listening in on their every move. The most intriguing, yet terrifying part of the book was how it only takes place about 30-40 years into our future, and as I write this, I am cognizant of the news reports coming across CNN talking about China flying dozens of warplanes over Taiwan in response of a U.S. diplomatic visit, and rumors that the communist superpower is now threatening to discontinue cooperating with our nation over international concerns such as climate change and the influx of opioids into our country from China. Then, of course, there is the ongoing war in Ukraine and detainment of WNBA star Brittney Griner. A big reason why Skikos’ book is so powerful is because, based on current events, it’s not entirely unimaginable that this could be the real future someday. Every day there seem to be increasing fights between individuals and corporations; between political parties and government systems; between those who seem to want the same future: safety, but who have vagrantly different ideas about how to accomplish that safety and how it affects our definitions of “freedom.”
Though at times the book felt almost a little too fast paced, “All Roads Lead to Nowhere” is poignant, eye-opening and harsh. It depicts the fact that in this type of future, our oppressors will not hesitate to harm a pregnant woman or a young child if it meant keeping safe, controversial and dangerous secrets that would give power to those who are thought to be inferior. It illuminates how we have a much stronger chance at fighting back if we join forces instead of further dividing ourselves. We recognize that if we want to protect the future freedoms of our children and grandchildren, we have to start speaking and acting now.
I recommend “All Roads Lead to Nowhere” to fans of dystopian fiction and sci-fi thrillers who want to both embark on a new literary adventure, but also learn some hard, yet valuable truths along the way.