Book Critique – The Capture (Prey #2)

For review of all books in the series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Hope & Despair; Friendships & Betrayals; Love & Hatred; Cruelty & Revenge; Rulers & Subjects; Captures & Escapes; every page gives you a variety in characters, emotions, plans, mishaps and terrors. A recipe for a dystopian novel successfully executed.

The Capture is the second book in The Prey trilogy by Tom Isbell published in January of 2016. The plot begins where it ended in the first book The Prey, with a group of Less Thans and Sisters heading back to rescue the rest.

The series is set in post-apocalyptic United States after the world was destroyed by nations who go on nuclear war against each other - an event called Omega. One enormous burst of electromagnetic radiation and everything electronic gets destroyed - no modern amenities left for common man to use. The US becomes the Republic Of The True America and divided into different Resettlement Camps and Territories. The Camps are handled by Military Sergeants, Colonels and Majors and myriads of Soldiers called Brown Shirts. The specific territory that this plot takes place in is the Western Federation Territory.

When I wrote the review of the first book in 2017, The Prey, I was pretty harsh with the book and had given a very low rating. However, I still wanted to read the series only because although it had loop holes, author kept the intrigue enough for readers to continue. However it took three years before I could go back to the series. Here is my take on the second book. 

Twenty Six of them had crossed into Heartland, the next territory. But Book, a Less Than, and Hope, a Sister, along with thirteen others head back from Heartland to rescue the remaining hundred or so Less Thans still stuck at Camp Liberty. Now these young'uns face more hardships finding their way back; new enemies to fight; losing their own; divided interests; blindsided by betrayals and above all dealing with the emotions too heavy for such a tender age. 

I missed it on the first book when I read but it dawned on me while reading this book that author Tom has put in a lot of boy scout principles and surviving skills in the plot as the protagonists continue on their journey. 

As with any kind of dystopian novel, author shows the cruelty a human can inflict on another; mankind's capacity for evil; small reasons to hate others; keep people under the thumb for the sake of dominating - all facts a recipe for a rebellion to start soon. 

The book is written in 3 parts - Part One titled The Road Back; Part Two titled Capture; and Part Three titled Return; - each of them subtitled with famous quotes. Each part's title inadvertently giving a concise of what we would find in just one word. Ingenious, I say. The entire plot is written in first person narration when the story is told from Book's perspective and normal manner when it is told from Hope or other's perspective. 

Two of the protagonists fall for each other. Yet one of them makes one mistake, even if it is for greater good, the other one doesn’t seem to understand or forgive, even though time and again the first one came back to save the second one, numerous times. That particular feeling between them dragged for quite a bit in the plot. Could have been shortened. 

As I said in the beginning, the first book lacked the grip to hook into the reader. However, this book definitely made up for it. Or perhaps I am reading it with a new perspective, not sure. Either way, I couldn’t put the book down until I finish it. 

The plot does reflect on the cruelty to people, settlement camps and the ulterior motives of the so called rulers, the struggles the uprisers face in order to free their friends, the experiments conducted, the basic urge to stamp down anyone who doesn’t fit in a mold - all ear markings of a successful dystopian novel. 

Hope & Despair; Friendships & Betrayals; Love & Hatred; Cruelty & Revenge; Rulers & Subjects; Captures & Escapes; every page gives you a variety in characters, emotions, plans, mishaps and terrors. Definitely worth reading the first book to get to this one. Now I cant wait to finish the conclusion. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a. Last time in my review of the first book, The Prey, I had mentioned that Tom Isbell had acted in two episodes of Murder, She Wrote and for some reason he captured my attention which lead me to his books. What I forgot to mention was that before he came on Murder, She Wrote episodes, he was in another TV movie from 1990 titled Rest In Peace, Mrs. Columbo from the famous TV detective show Columbo. He portrayed the role of Sergeant Brady.

b. Some of the tactics that author Tom has his protagonists use are unique, and you wonder if anyone thought of them as means of defense like -  creating a morphed version of Zip Line to escape from a sticky situation; Slide Logs to slide a huge tree across a bridge; 

c. Media, Books and Music that are referenced in the book - 1960 film Inherit the Wind; Book quotes Shakespeare all the time (Henry IV, Othello, The Tempest, ); The Art of War, 5th Century BC Chinese book; 

d. Of the 125 who were left behind at Camp Freedom in the first book, only sixty Sisters and Of the 150 who were left behind at Camp Liberty in the first book, only seventy-five Less Thans survived by the time protagonists got back to rescue them. 

e. Hope was looking to find her childhood home along the way. 

f. It is unknown if Miranda betrayed the protagonists in the end while escaping the tunnels of Skull People even though she gave a map for them to escape. She however flirts with Book and likes him. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Various Territories:

i. Western Federation Territory - lead by Chancellor C Maddox

ii. The Heartlands Territory - 

iii. The Skull People - have their own underground territory called Compound. Ruled by Council of Ten that includes Chief Justice. The founder of The Skull People, Goodwoman Olvera, is Book's grandmother. His mom was Maria who died giving birth to him. Others - Goodman Dougherty; Goodwoman Marciniak; Mirand "Mandy", Chief Justice's daughter; Goodman Jotson;

b. Less Thans other than Book who have escaped Camp Liberty - Cat; Flush; Twitch; Red; Dozer; Four Fingers. Book's dog Argos follows them. Cat is injured losing his left forearm, Twitch loses his sight in this book. 

c. Sisters other than Hope Samadi who have escaped Camp Freedom - 19 of them escape; Diana; Scylla; Helen; Angela; Lacey; 

d. Various groups the Less Thans and Sisters face - Crazies; Brown Shirts; Colonels; Sergeants; Mayors; Hunters (lead by a Man in Orange vest)

e. Camp Liberty - supervised by Sergeant Dekker, Major Karsten and Colonel Westbrook. Boys are kept here who are called as Less Thans. When they turn 17, instead of getting trained as Soldiers, are sent to Rite where they are used as Prey for Hunters.

f. Camp Freedom - run by Dr. Gallingham and Colonel Thorason, who have been experimenting on the girls who reside in the camp. All girls are twins by birth and are called as Sisters. Other Sisters - Sarah; 

g. Dr. Galingham claimed that Dr. Uzair Samadi, father of the twin sisters Hope and Faith, was known as the Butcher of the West and had been an active participant in the experiments conducted on girls. Both their father and Faith are dead as of the first book. 

3. Grammatical / Factual / Location / Historical / Character Errors:

a. On Pg. 116, Line 5, it should be "…lined up in tidy rows…"


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