When I was initially asked to read and review Roderick Vincent’s The Cause, I didn’t hesitate. It was described to me as “a character-driven dystopian thriller a la John Le Carree, Hunger Games, and 1984,” which is indeed right up my alley.
The year is 2022. America is on the verge of economic and social collapse. The government has made liberty its enemy. African American hacker Isse Corvus enters a black-ops training camp. He discovers the leaders are revolutionaries seeking to return the U.S. back to its Constitutional roots. He learns that if he doesn’t join The Cause and help them hack the NSA’s servers, it could mean his life.
A novel of juxtaposition, The Cause also tells the tale of NSA Director General Titus Montgomery. The President has told him that rule of law must be maintained at all costs. But something is wrong with the heartbeat of America. What will he do when Martial law meets revolution?
Due to my immediate interest, I was surprised when I had a hard time getting into the novel. I thought this was a sort of indication about the rest of the book, but it wasn’t. Once the story took off, the true story, I was engrossed.
But I was also incensed, saddened and intrigued. I found myself describing it to my husband to work through my frustrations, but they were frustrations I was happy to have, because the story is good.
The depths to which Vincent explores his characters, humanity and certain perspectives of America compelled me. Vincent addresses issues and themes that are becoming more prevalent as we, as a society, as individuals, question the place and limits of government and how it fits into our lives, how it affects us, controls us, guides us.
Often, I found myself disagreeing with the characters, their decisions and loyalties, but it didn’t lessen the story at all. If anything, it gave it a reality that I was happy to trudge through, sometimes peek in on.
Even more often than that, I was angered by how frequently I was faced with the idea that a thread of truth and an army of lies can lead us anywhere. Everywhere.
For a moment, toward the end of The Cause, I felt a moment of relief when I thought Corvus had finally realized what I had realized, but he was simply concerned about an imminent death, something he had been taught over and over again was such a little thing. And in the scope of the themes of this novel, I agreed. There was so much more to it than his life, or the lives of so many other characters that blinked out in an instant, or in a long, painful moment. I still don’t know who the good guys were, who the villains were–it was never so black and white, which was part of the appeal.
In the end, I nearly forgot how the beginning had put me off.
I figure it could be a matter of the book not starting where the story begins. But it ended up not being of any consequence since I was left pondering so much more.
It is a big book with big ideas and it was very enjoyable to be forced to question those ideas while being sucked down into a rabbit hole unlike any other I’ve read. I certainly recommend it to fans of military SF, though it’s light on the SF and heavy on the military. But more than that, it’s an exploration of self, of society, and how far either can go for ideals that can twisted at a whim.
Visit Roderick Vincent’s website here.