(Note: I apologize for not including pictures, but I honestly didn’t want to tamper with Wayne’s depiction of Echo and his characters.)
Synopsis from Back Jacket of Echo
In the late 21st Century, humanity left Earth due to multiple resource shortcomings aggravated by an acceleration in climate change. They settled Echo, a planet that was nearly a carbon copy of Earth except for being devoid of all but the most basic life forms. Fast forward 1200 years later: Echo has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government have merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush the huge network of rebels known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes. The elite live high above, removed and remote, on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.
Right from the get-go of this book, I knew I was in for a savage ride that would test my humanity and force me to pause entirely on some pages to regroup my humility. A book stripped to the rawest nerve of a human being, and a plot readers not only invest in, but battle apart of.
Echo being a fictional world with upgraded technology and enhancements meant the government, organizations, and terminology all had to be explained by Wayne, but I’m telling you, he could not have wrote it simpler for the every day person to understand. Now, I’ve played Call of Duty before, and I write action, so I have a basic understanding of war terminology and weaponry. But I think Wayne fed us just the right dose of description at just the right time, enabling us to remember the names of the gear, weapons, injections, locations, and classes of soldiers he imagined without us feeling lost in Echo.
As far as the story goes, I have never read anything more unsettling in my life. There were moments I literally had to close the book because the experience of pain was so vivid. The cruelty of Chapter One, the savagery those recruits endured was tangible. I smelt their pungent sweat, I felt their exhaustion in my limbs and lungs, I was there even though I wanted like hell to be anywhere else in the world. I was there watching through Atriya’s eyes.
That line, after they had kicked the hell out of the failures, Clement said, “Keep going. I want to hear some bones crack” (page 6). Then after crippling those guys and pissing on them, Clement said something even worse, “There’s still almost twenty of you. About half of you are going to get what you just gave” (page 8), and that made my mouth fall open in horror.
Now, I know that might sound like dissuasion, but being unsettled was really the core reason I kept reading. For Wayne’s writing to be realistic enough that I felt it, that’s worth my money and time.
Every single character in this book was flawless and refreshing. Benson was by far my favorite. Oh man, the classic kiss-ass we all can’t stand who whines to management when he doesn’t get his way. I loved his consistency. I loved the depiction of his vile physical appearance and his corrupt morality. I loved reading his entire retelling in Chapter Five of what happened to him and Atriya on the battlefield. All the lies that spilled out of his mouth. Sounds to me he got what he deserved.
Atriya is our unorthodox protagonist. Even while I’m reviewing this, I’m still not sure what it is exactly that nudged me to be biased toward Atriya to begin with. I believe it’s simply the connotation of his point of view. He never disagreed with the beatings, never desired to rebel against the system, but he stood up for justice and was loyal to Verus. Perhaps it’s in the small things.
Verus, the legend, is a woman amongst a surging army of primarily males. Not only is she ranked higher than the men and is also physically attractive, but she’s humble about all her excelling qualities which amplifies her appeal. I love her, and hope to see more of her in Volume 2.
Vivid Imagery and Feel-Good Language
Not a page in this book went without it. Some of my favorites are:
- In the square, there was a billboard showing commercials, and Wayne wrote: “Like moths to a flame, people milled closer. The light from the projector made their faces look empty. Zombie-like.” (page 21)
- “People are people—meaning there’s always idiots who lap up shit and swear that it’s sugar.” (page 40)
- “There were fewer bonds more powerful than having been young, strong, and miserable together.” (page 67)
- “He also couldn’t deny that the smoke smelled nice; it reeked of cozy laziness, of comfortable inertia. Of settling in and letting things coast.” (page 72)
- “Morgues are gonna be crowded tonight.” (page 87)
The backstory to the term “Approaching Shatter” was saddening. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s similar to what happens to those whose time is spent here on Earth. A decaying of the mind, if you will. I loved the telling of this, and how it incorporated so nicely with our main character.
Definitely ended this book with a sick feeling in my gut. I’m worried about Atriya and what might happen to him out there; because of Jury he has so many enemies. And I feel as though that Spartan sword is a foreshadowed cause of death for him. The whole time in that ship, it felt like Atriya was surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing. I hated it, but at the same time, felt a thrill knowing Atriya might possibly be capable of Taking. Them. All. Down.
Volume 1 is only 105 pages long. I bought Volume 1 and 2 as a combined edition, thank God, because now I don’t have to wait for it to arrive for me to hash into Volume 2.
You can purchase Echo Vol. 1 & 2 combined on Amazon for six bucks and some change right now, or read it for free on Kindle! Go now! Get it here:
Note: Prices subject to change.