Read the latest reviews below.
Kirkus Reviews (Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine that dates back to 1933, and is one of the most famous book magazines in the world).
Debut author McDermott offers a sweeping dystopian novel about a repressive regime and those who rebel against it.
It’s 2196, and things are not going well for humanity. People either live in a totalitarian society called the Republic or they’re scattered into different sectors of what’s known as the Grey Zone. People in the latter locale don’t have much, and some rely on food aid from the Republic. But at least those who live outside the Republic can enjoy ancient music, including songs by the Rolling Stones (or even Coldplay, if they so choose). More importantly, they don’t have to live in fear of being killed for doing something against the law—such as owning a Holy Bible. The Republic has many other strict rules and plenty of sadistic agents, including Samantha “Slinky” Link, to enforce them. However, even the impressive Slinky can’t stop everyone. Over the course of the book, readers follow a young man in the Republic named Timothy Dawkins as he comes into contact with forbidden knowledge that alters his entire worldview. Meanwhile, out in the Grey Zone, although people are averse to killing, they’re still well stocked with AK-47s—and they’re also getting pretty sick of being pushed around. At more than 900 pages, this adventure is a lengthy one, and some aspects of the tale garner excessive attention. For instance, the official education that Timothy receives goes on for many pages, and although it helps establish for readers just what the Republic is all about, the conversation between the boy and his tutor lends itself to doldrums such as “The fundamental flaw of a democratic society is that it can be infiltrated from within.” Still, as drawn out as some portions of the story may be, it generally maintains momentum. Conflicts are constantly raging both in and out of the Republic, whether they come at the behest of a power-hungry ruler or an alcoholic rebel. Readers will find themselves invested in what happens when the lives of the characters collide.
A futuristic tale that’s heavy on worldbuilding but still races to its inevitably violent conclusion.
Our verdict: get it.
Jennifer Cameron-Smith (Jennifer is one of the Top 10 book reviewers on Amazon. She is also ranked #62 on the all-time Top Reviewers list on Goodreads).
‘Perfect. In the Republic, there is only what is allowed, and what is not.’
2196. A new world, in which the Republic is the sole surviving state. The Father is the ruler, the Law is immutable, religion is banned. Those who are citizens of the Republic are protected from the lawless sectors outside by electric fences. Some of those who live outside conduct raids across the fence for supplies.
‘Freedom was a thing of the old world, a thing that had died with the ancient communities during the last conflicts, but it was a concept that wasn’t forgotten.’
In this epic dystopian tale, five different characters tell the story. The good, the bad, the ugly, the impressionable and the exploited. It’s a long, complex story with backstory provided in part as history lessons and the occasional soliloquy. BUT there is a lot of violence. Unnecessarily graphic violence at times, in my view. I am not squeamish, but I certainly didn’t need all the detail of torture and rape sometimes provided. I get it. I worked out who the bad guys were, I don’t need to have frequent reinforcement of their badness.
I’m frequently in the mood these days for dystopian fiction, and I found a lot to like in Mr McDermott’s story. I just wish it was less believable. There’s hope here, as well as violence, love as well as hate. Can the heroes build a new and better world? I hope so.
Recommended, but not for the squeamish.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hemisphere Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
Jay Dwight (owner of Dymocks Rouse Hill)
The year is 2196 and it is a very different world to the one we know. Citizens of the Republic live inside the fence, and everything is done to keep those on the outside out. Inside the fence is a world where there is one law, law that is completely unchanged from time of enactment. Religion is outlawed. Outside the fence we have civilisations struggling to survive, trying to get inside the fence to steal medical supplies and the like, and often relying on food drops from inside the fence.
I loved the premise and enjoyed the journey this book took. I found the perspectives of the new world very interesting, and particularly liked the classroom sessions between an intelligent nine year old and his tutor looking back at history – our current times – and explaining the failings of the West (were individual freedoms took precedence over everything) and the East (where religion took precedence), all of which led to the collapse of both and the birth of the new Republic which corrected these failings.
Jesse Miller (brainofj.org)
It is the year 2196. Religion is outlawed, genuinely thought to be nothing but problematic or the product of insanity. Because of this, the world, as you or I know it now in 2019, has collapsed. From its ashes rises a new world order, The Republic, the sole surviving state of the new world, and – of course – the resistance.
Welcome to Michael Francis McDermott’s ambitious, sprawling epic debut novel IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. It begins by tearing into a dystopian world like a bat out of hell. Your only option is to grab a hold of something and come along for the ride.
Beyond its fiercely propulsive opening chapters, the novel slows down. It sputters a little, taking its time to find its rhythm, and learning about the history of how things came to be feels more like exposition being dropped rather than arising organically, but the novel gets there in the end, finding a cosy groove between energetic action and engaging drama.
It’s opening chapters feel familiar, I must admit. The world is split into sectors, there’s an all-powerful governing force and a small resistance, but Michael Francis McDermott has his own agenda. He has his own voice and he intends to deliver upon the concept he establishes. It’s different enough, for me, that I continued to read. Intrigued by what would come next.
His writing style has the engaging action like Matthew Reilly with all the imagination of Suzanne Collins and all the tenderness of John Marsden’s Tomorrow, When The War Began. As I said, he channels the spirit of such authors but he comes into his own, especially as the novel goes on and the world is fleshed out and establishes his themes.
I mean, a world without religion? Just think about that for a moment. Think about the chaos, think about the violence the world has carried out in the name of religion – for years. What would happen if religion all around the world was eradicated? What would the world fight about then? What would that mean for people? And what does that mean for a reader who has faith? Do we assume or hope the novel has a fantastical element to it? What if it doesn’t have a fantastical element, what does that mean? Talk about an existential crisis.
Michael Francis McDermott, thankfully, paints the world in shades of grey. You get to see both sides of the conflict, from characters within The Republic – some sane, some fanatical – to the resistance and their reasons for fighting. As a reader, you get the whole picture, which I was satisfied with.
I just wish the novel had a glossary, featuring a list of characters and a timeline and a map. As this is an ARC, I cannot say whether such an aspect will be included but I think that given the cast of characters and locations, both a map of some areas and list of characters with a brief description, would be add to the immersion of the novel.
Ultimately, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER is an impressive debut, with some strong ideas that drive the plot along. It is a long novel that often feels slow and some delivery of story beats feel more clunky than organic but Michael Francis McDermott displays a talent for writing set pieces, characters and action and I do believe there’s a bright future ahead for him.
Red Ink Book Reviews
‘In the Name of the Father” is the debut novel of Australian author, Michael Francis McDermott.
This novel is a dystopian based story that follows the stories of three characters: a rebel, a republican and a child caught between it all.
Hundreds of years ago the old world collapsed and died thanks to what became know as the Religious War and the inadequacies of the governments and rulers of the time. Almost destroying everything that was left of humanity and civilization as knew it.
What came out of the ashes was a new government that became known as the Republic, all in the name their leader, all in the name of the Father. With society broken down broken up into pieces known as the Republic and the various Grey zones. The people that lived in the Grey zones were considered to be inferior people compared to those of the Republic. Savage and lawless, but reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The people of the Grey zones were forced to live under the punishing rules of the Republic.
Heath has spent his entire life living in the Grey zone under the oppression of the Republic, having lost many family and friends. But as a rebel that is a more frequent occurrence for Heath but he doesn’t let hat stop him from doing what he can to fight back and help win freedom for all the people of the Grey zones. There is just one major obstacle in his way.
Intent on stopping the rebels and crushing all those in his path to power, by any means necessary, is the Republic’s Treasurer, Henry Erskine. Besides the Father himself, Henry Erskine was the most powerful man in the Republic, so getting his way was something the Treasurer was very much use to. Yet things were starting to unravel at the seams for Henry, and as far as he was concerned the rebels were at the centre of it all.
Yet without knowing it, stuck in the middle of this battle between good and evil was a young boy, Timothy. He was a good boy who lived in the Republic with his Mama. He did well in his classes with his tutor and on the Campus with his fellow classmates. Yet Timothy wasn’t like all the other children, He had a series heart defect that only a life saving heart transplant would fix. Luckily for Timothy he was able to get a new heart, but that’s when everything changed. Timothy started to think for himself and realise not everything was as it seemed. Maybe the people he trusted and been hiding the truth from him, from everyone the whole time.
As Heath fights for freedom and Henry does everything in his power to stop the rise of the Rebels, Timothy battles to uncover the truth. Can good really overcome evil? Will Timothy be able to uncover the truth? And when it all comes to an end who will be left standing to pick up the pieces?
“In the Name of the Father” was the longest story that I have read in quite some time, it took me few chapters to get into the groove of the story. However, I was rewarded for sticking it through.
This dystopian novel picks up the pace after the first few chapters and immerses you into a world where not everything is as it seems and even thought the battle may seem hopeless and lost, its still worth fighting for what you believe in. You feel for Heath as he is forced to grow up before his time and struggles through things many kids and people his age are luckily to never have to think about. Henry makes you realise what power can do in the hands of the wrong person, for someone who has no regard for others just their own needs and agenda. Timothy is just an innocent child influenced by propaganda and the misinformation feed to him by the very people who should be looking after him. It is a gritty story that keeps you rooting for the underdog even when it seems like everything might be lost and hoping that everyone gets what they truly deserve.
This story keeps the reader engaged with it’s interesting twists and turns that you do not see coming and with an ending that I believe ties it all together nicely.
Note: Based on an advance copy from NetGalley.
Set 176 years in the future, In the Name of the Father takes place in The Republic, an authoritarian society where religion is outlawed and the law is sacrosanct. The virtues and follies of The Republic are explored through the eyes of a politician, a child, an “agent”, and a resistance fighter.
McDermott has crafted a masterful plot, managing to take me by surprise a number of times. Other plot twists are made obvious to the reader, but are withheld from the characters, adding to the building tension towards the end of the book.
There were some interesting references that I was left pondering. The FF (Freedom Fighters) seemed not too distant in name or style from the SS. Giving the Republican tutors Roman style names seemed deliberate – was it a nod to influence of ancient Rome on modern systems of government?
For much of the book I felt that the author was deliberately leaving the reader to ponder on the big questions. What place does faith and spirituality have in a modern society? What forms of government work best? What does it really mean to be free? What are the virtues and follies of our own modern society? I heard recently that great art doesn’t answer questions, it asks them. I appreciated the parts of this book that left the questions open for me to contemplate.
At times though it seemed more like I was being preached at, particularly through the complex discussions that Timothy, a child of the Republic, had with his tutor Aurelius. These discussions also felt far too advanced for a child of that age. As fascinating as it was to observe a faith crisis in reverse, some of these sections felt too long and too detailed. When the name of the opposing faction within the Republic was revealed, it also felt like a political statement about the relative merits of modern-day political parties.
Lastly, I felt that the protracted and violent sex scene was out of place and overly graphic. Some may argue it was necessary to fully flesh out the characters involved, but I don’t think there was any question before or after this scene that the person involved was rotten to the core.
After finishing this book, I was left feeling that it was both a condemnation of the human propensity for violent, controlling behaviour, and a tribute to human strength and empathy. I don’t think the author knows which will win out in the end, but he leaves us with the hope that love will prevail.
Charlotte Draper (Charli’s Media House)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is long but for me that only meant that by the end I was so invested in the characters and their journeys that I actually wanted more.
I found the concept intriguing from the start. The Republic is a post apocalyptic society where religion is outlawed and gates separate the strictly monitored citizens from the “rebels” in surrounding districts. The story is told from the perspectives of 5 characters and the writing captures their very different personas excellently. There is our brave hero, an impressionable child of The Republic, a power hungry dictator, a sickeningly evil agent and an innocent refugee mum seeking a new life for her children. As in all good books, all of the characters begin in one place and finish up somewhere different. It’s particularly exciting when these characters finally cross paths and everything “comes together” later in the book.
To me, this book is ultimately about the human experience. While there is some heavy violence, parts indeed quite disturbing, it is all to establish the setting – this is a dark world, a dangerous place. What happens when a people in and around a place like this are told they aren’t allowed to believe in anything? The result is inspiring.
Something else I particularly enjoyed were the “history lessons”. Set almost 200 years in the future, it is interesting to hear recent world changing events from our lifetimes re told in this context. What will the generations in years to come think of us and the events that shaped our world? Then there is the discovery of some “artefacts” leftover from our time. Music, art, poetry – the things of freedom. I became emotional in appreciation of these things we sometimes take for granted.
There is lots of guns, violence, sex, friendship, family, bravery, good, evil, war and thought provoking philosophical propositions. But the truth is that underneath it all, this is a beautiful story with a big heart that makes you question almost everything about our world except the one absolute – that the most powerful thing of all is love.
BE AWARE: This book could easily be a prediction of future societal direction. Michael McDermott is a fan of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” and has now penned his own exciting glimpse into his future of “2196”.
Our country’s leadership decides on the rules we must abide and how we must live. The author gives us a dramatic view of how easily we could be led into following and voting in new ideas and fads that can lock us into a lifestyle of divisiveness and also fearful for our families and the future.
This book is a must read exciting thriller to the end.
This is my voluntarily submitted review, fair and honest and in my own words, for this ARC. This will probably be a long review but I feel it is warranted. In The Name of the Father is a dystopian fiction that has the feel of current (or what COULD quickly become current) events. This is a huge book! If you happen to be in quarantine, this is the book that will see you through. The story is based in the 22nd century where religion and leadership are in opposing camps. There are references to the “old world” which apparently ended shortly after the 911 tragedy. The Father promotes social separation based on the haves and haves nots, those who are sensible and follow the Father’s laws and those who question those laws and want freedom. I have to warn you, there are some very violent and disturbing depictions and sexual references which might offend some readers. You can pretty easily pick out when they are coming and skip over them if you think it might upset you, as I am sure they will some people. Despite these very graphic scenes, this is a very well written book that makes you think and question. One that will leave you suspended in this world, never knowing if what you believe is real or propaganda.
**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
I was intrigued by this book as soon as I saw it, dystopian/post apocalyptic novels are always interesting and I enjoy that so many authors can come at it from different angles and Michael Francis McDermott is no exception.
I didn’t like that it was written from 5 different character perspectives, but that is purely reader opinion! The story was well written, the characters were well written and I could see the reasoning behind the different perspectives as the novel unfolded.
As the novel progresses so do our characters, both heroes/villains alike, their character development was well thought out and it was nice to notice the poignant changes that they had gone through at the end of the novel.. when their paths finally cross it is interesting to see the interactions these five very different character have with one another.
I liked that McDermott explained what had happened, that there were ‘history lessons’ so that the reader could feel like:
a) they could’ve been a student learning about this in school
b) they hadn’t missed a major plot point or felt as though the reason for the apocalyptic mess was unresolved.
As a debut novel – is does have its flaws and each reader will find things they like or dislike, as is the way with all books. However I feel like this was an interesting read, although a bit lengthy, and it will do well with a wide variety of readers.
A compelling read. Whilst the length of the book was imposing at first, I was quickly drawn into the story and after the first few chapters I knew I was in for the long haul!
Set in a dystopian future, the novel raises interesting questions surrounding the pitfalls of democracy and the place of religion in society – without taking a distinct stance on either side of the equation. This is achieved by storytelling from the perspective of each of the main characters, all of whom have their own very firm set of beliefs challenged at different stages of the story.
The characters are strong and believable (Slinky, a tough and slightly unhinged Republican Agent, being the most engaging for my part) and the action relentless, with the occasional pause to delve into ‘history’ to establish how things went so wrong for society as a whole.
The book was graphic in parts, which wasn’t a dealbreaker for me – but these scenes are certainly not for the faint of heart. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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