Review: The Loop by Ben Oliver

Rating: 8.5/10


Life inside The Loop-the futuristic death row for teens under eighteen-is one long repetitive purgatory. But when news of the encroaching chaos in the outside world reaches the inmates and disorder begins to strike, the prison becomes the least of their worries.

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? 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.


Thanks to Recorded Books, the author, and the narrator for a listening copy of The Loop for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Luka Kane, I’m going to kill you.

Going ahead and calling it: The Loop by Ben Oliver is going to be the next Hunger Games or 5th Wave. It’ll be the new YA sensation everyone is talking about so you may want to go ahead and get on board.

It’s funny, I just finished and reviewed another novel that is also called The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson, which also happens to hit this year (9/29/20). Anyone else out there want to have a go for the trifecta? Good news is: both novels are about as far apart from one another as can be, except for maybe the bit about murderous psychopaths… but you can just see for yourself. One is DEFINITELY meant more for adults, and it ain’t this one.

I actually really found this story compelling, especially the main character of Luka Kane. Seeing the entirety of the novel played out through his eyes kept me engaged and emotionally invested. Though we never find out why he has been placed in the Loop (I can only imagine we will find out later in the series), we do know that he was placed there by mistake. He steadily makes friends with the other inmates, and especially with the warden, before everything truly goes to hell in a hand-basket. From that point on, the pacing of the novel quickens so much that you will find it hard to catch your breath.

The synopsis itself really hooked me when I came across this novel, but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t hesitant to pick it up when I saw that it was a YA debut. Of course I was in the age “appropriate” group when YA was really breaking out, but I have slowly become a crotchety elder who will only read adult themed novels nowadays. Having said that, The Loop was written in such a way that it can be enjoyed by all ages.

I also want to give a shout to Julian Elfer who narrated the novel. I’ve only heard him once while listening to Pierce Brown’s ‘Iron Gold’ but he has a multitude of other titles under his belt including Rachel Caine’s Great Library series and he is absolutely fantastic. I thought he was a fantastic choice for The Loop and I cannot wait to hear his recordings of the next two (2) in the series.

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