Spectators of War
GenZ Publishing (2022)
Reviewed by Rachel Deeming for Reader Views (09/22)
“Spectators of War” is a novel which thrusts you from the outset into a world where war has become a sport: like football games, named teams compete against others in a bid to win, and achieve the adulation of their thousands of screaming fans. This happens on a local level as well as internationally, and it is big business. Frighteningly big business. It is also carnage on an immense scale, organized and in need of new recruits.
However, this is not a gruesome read to be avoided by the faint of heart. It is darkly funny throughout which is what one would expect from satire, as well as having many human elements. Swanson has the narrative revolving around key characters starting with Ranger Monroe, veteran of the wars and the people’s hero and becoming more focused on Annie Kennedy, wannabe star, trying to break into the business. Danny Carr of Valkyrie Productions also features highly, as head in all but position, of the most successful army providers. There are a number of others who are key to the plot and Swanson is adept at switching between them all to make his narrative fluid and easy to follow.
I really enjoyed this book. It is thought-provoking: the vision that Swanson proposes seems far-fetched and yet, I was reminded of history and the gladiators of Ancient Rome in particular, as well as stories like ”The Running Man” and satirists like Jonathan Swift. He is an intelligent writer, clear on character and the way that the plot develops is well executed throughout. There were no weak spots, although I have to say that I found the ending a little unexpected.
Irony permeates the text. Is it possible that the exploitative nature of organized war is in danger of being exploited? The ideas presented in this book seem extreme and yet, they are representative of the dark influence that money and ambition can have over virtually any situation. I hope sincerely that Luke Swanson’s book is not prophetic, but I would recommend for any reader that likes their dystopian fiction on the light side, with some comic moments, to pick up “Spectators of War” and give it a read.