Sunday, September 12, 2010

The End of Marking Time -- C. J. West

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book, and it's probably better that you don't know, either. So you'll have to decide for yourself whether to read further.

The book is narrated by Michael O'Connor, who's speaking to an audience that the reader isn't at first certain of, telling the story of his life. A successful burglar who's been a criminal for years, he's still quite young. When he's caught and jailed, the book takes a turn that surprised me. The bus taking him to prison is hijacked, and O'Connor's severely injured. He goes into a coma that lasts for four years. When the sleeper wakes, he's in a brave new world.

The courts have ruled that long-term imprisonment is cruel and unusual. Every prisoner in the U. S. is released. Michael has no idea how to deal with the new system, in which he's a "relearner," someone who's supposed to learn to live the straight life. He has a mentor, an ankle bracelet, and many learning DVDs to watch. He appears to be free to come and go and to make his own choices, but that's not quite true, and there are plenty of twists before the final one at the conclusion.

This is an unusual crime/SF novel. There's mystery and suspense, but it's not the standard kind. The book is as much concerned with crime and punishment and rehabilitation as it is with the story. If you're looking for something a little off the beaten track, give this one a try.

1 comment:

CJ West said...

Bill, Thanks for reading!

Michael's story isn't your typical crime drama. I hope you enjoyed my take on the future of crime and punishment.