Publisher's Note:  

When Ransom Lawe, a recycler in the Pacific Northwest, finds out his wife is pregnant with their third--and therefore illegal--child, he's forced to choose between the government who proclaims a desire to save the planet and his hope for a place where his family can live in freedom. But with the Census Bureau Sentinels closing in on his wife and unborn child, Ransom's choice will either save his family or tear them apart forever. Abel Keogh offers a stark and haunting look at a not-so-distant future in this chilling new novel. Crossing lines between good and evil, freedom and oppression, and political and environmental responsibility, The Third is a gut-wrenching tale of intense loyalty and unconditional love.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Cedar Fort

The Third

by Abel Keogh

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Overall Review:  

Reminiscent of George Orwell’s ‘1984’, Abel Keogh has captured a viable, thought provoking, and grippingly scary future in The Third.  It is the year 2065 in Washington State, USA.  The government has almost total control over the people: no cars are allowed (donkeys with carts or public trams instead!), no air conditioning/heating, the power is closely regulated (and if you use too much, it’s shut off!), water is rationed, food is rationed to the point of a constant gnawing hunger, and above all, having more than two children is unheard of and illegal.  The only way around the ‘child replacement’ law is if you can find someone who doesn’t have kids who is willing to sell their replacement credit to you.  If you’re caught expecting your third without that credit, you will go to prison and undergo surgery!  Ransom Lawe does a good deed and ends up having a run-in with a sentinel (law enforcement officer) that does not bode well for his family.  At the same time, his wife, Teya, tells him she is expecting an illegal third.  Now they are desperately trying to find solutions that will keep them both out of prison.  The writing in this novel is fantastic.  The characters are realistic and the settings are bleak.  Ransom is hot-headed and aggressive, and I admit I didn’t like him at first.  As the story went on, though, you realize that he is that way due to stress, frustration, and helplessness.   There is a constant intensity that doesn’t let up; it builds and builds without relief until the very end!  The law is enforced by intimidation and brute force.  Everyone is repressed, though most don’t realize it.  They’ve all been taught that the new restrictions and laws are for the good of the people—that it will make life better.  Some choose to fight against the control and barbarism, but most are content to just sit back and let things lie as they are.  I wondered often: Which side would I be on?  Would I fight to be free? Or would I just go with the flow?  The Third is an expertly told psychological dystopian tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  I can’t stop thinking about it.

Content Analysis:  

This novel was so well written and scary, but I would not consider it clean.  The sentinels are evil and brutal.  They have no problem hurting small babies, harassing and battering women, stealing, belittling, threatening, and beating up anyone who stands in their way.  There are anger crimes as well.  A character pulls out another’s stitches to get some answers.  There is an intense and pretty gory fight scene at the end. 

There are some sexual innuendos.  Since this book is about whether or not the people should have large families, there are lots of discussions about family planning, etc.  A character is very crude and makes comments about another man’s wife. 

As far as profanity, there are only 2 mild words, and not necessarily even used as exclamations: one is giving thanks, the other is a place.

Mature Subject Matter:  

The themes are very adult: How our choices affect not only ourselves but others around us; living with hard decisions; dealing with fear and intimidation; dystopian societal laws and whether to follow them or to follow your own heart.

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Reviewed By Emily
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