The blurb on the book said The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson was a cross between Stranger Things and World War Z. That alone was enough for me to request a review copy.
But as I read the book, I realized that wasn’t even close to describing the story.
The Loop takes place in the fictional town of Turner Falls, Oregon. Originally a tourist town on the river, a recent influx of tech business has changed the town’s focus.
Lucy is a Peruvian teen adopted as a child by a loving middle-class couple in town. Her best friend, Bucket, immigrated with his family from Pakistan to Turner Falls.
This doesn’t bode well for either of them in a predominately white town that has a clear class and race hierarchy that put them both at the near-bottom of their about-to-graduate class heavy in jocks, cheerleaders, and popular rich kids.
Just when Lucy thinks life couldn’t get worse, a couple of murders happen in town and a few in her class are involved.
She’s slowly starting to enjoy the night when her rich and popular classmates start arriving. Not wanting to be the target of their drunken mean-spirited verbal attacks, she accepts Brewer’s invitation to explore the caves.
Then the party sounds turn to screams, and Lucy returns to find some of her classmates are attacking each other with the intent not just to kill, but to maim and torture the prey as long as they can before death.
Something has taken them over and it feeds off the rush of the pain and screams of the victims. An endorphin high is the only thing that will appease the hive-minded entity that has taken over almost everyone at the party.
As Lucy and a few survivors escape back to town, they find their safe haven is anything but, and as they learn more about what is happening, they discover this night of horror is actually courtesy of a machine that was created by the big tech firm in town. Though machine is too simple a word to describe what the invention has evolved into.
If I had to compare this book I would say The Loop is more a cross between 1998’s Disturbing Behavior and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with a touch of Star Wars: Rogue One at the end, though the teens aren’t being replicated so much as converted.
The story is original, and there’s plenty of killing, maiming, and body horror to appease the gorehounds. As a trigger warning, some of the descriptions are very gruesome, and there are nasty animal deaths.
My main issue with the book is the first quarter of the story is rife with sexually vulgar conversation between the teens, to point it felt very gratuitous, and took away my enjoyment of that part of the story. Some of it connects to a plot point later in the book, but could’ve been worded a different way and still made a valid connection.
However, if you can get past that, the rest of the book is a riveting can’t-put-down horror story with strong characters in a horrible non-stop fight for their life.
I’m giving The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson a 4 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: I received an advance e-book copy for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not compensated in any other way. My opinion is honest, and as always, my own.
Disclaimer: This post uses Amazon affiliate links. It doesn’t add anything to your cost, should you choose to purchase something. Thanks!
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