Stranger Things meets World War Z in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.
Turner Falls is a small tourist town nestled in the hills of western Oregon, the kind of town you escape to for a vacation. When an inexplicable outbreak rapidly develops, this idyllic town becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence as the teenaged children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and aggressively murderous. Suddenly the town is on edge, and Lucy and her friends must do everything it takes just to fight through the night.
Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Loop for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.
The Loop is a white-knuckle, face-bashing thrill-ride from the mind behind Skullcrack City and Entropy in Bloom. This is weird conspiracy thriller fiction to the max, and I’m all in. This was an absolute blast from beginning to end.
I’ve been kicking myself for a while now because I’ve had Skullcrack City on my to-do list but just haven’t overcome the towering bookstack to crack it open. When I saw JRJ had a new novel coming out this year, I made it a priority to refresh both NetGalley and Edelweiss on the daily until I saw The Loop come across. When I received an approval notification within a day or so of requesting, I decided to jump right in and see what all the fuss was about.
Needless to say, Johnson has the chops to write a story that is as engaging at the end as it is as at the beginning. Even with work, COVID anxieties, etc., I plowed through this book rather quickly, mostly due to the fact that I had an insanely tight grip on my Kindle throughout.
What begins as a podcast conspiracy rolls into a bloody massacre that leaves not a soul in Turner Falls to the wayside. Lucy is the focal point of the story, so everything is seen through her eyes, but we are introduced to an array of characters throughout the seemingly short timeline from beginning to end. Each of these additional characters plays a small but important role in helping Lucy crack the code, so to speak. She is a very likeable character who has had a rough go of it in her short life, but she shows off a heck of a lot more grit as the story progresses than you would figure in the early onset.
I feel like Stranger Things is becoming the new Game of Thrones comparison when drawing in the crowd, but I can definitely see a resemblance with the young cast, the overarching conspiracy, and the small town feel.
While the plot itself gave me some vibes of Stephen King’s Cell, Dean Koontz’s Demon Seed, and George A. Romero’s The Crazies, Johnson has written a wholly original, albeit bat**** crazy, novel that I think will appeal to fans of the former mentioned and those who enjoy a good zombie/body snatcher romp.
All in all, if you haven’t read any JRJ and like a bit of weird thriller fiction in your life, this is a pretty awesome starting point. If you are already a fan of JRJ, pick this up with 0 hesitation.
David W says