The Wall, by N.J. Croft

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to N.J. Croft for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

With the political circus in full swing across America, N.J. Croft’s newest book looks to provide readers with some insightful foreshadowing (and foreboding) of what could come, should ‘The Wall’ become a reality. With a chilling plot and some great characters, Croft offers readers a glimpse of the dystopia that awaits if America’s four year nightmare does not end on January 20, 2021. In the not too distant future, America stands on its own. After the Loyalty Party swept into power, President Harry Coffell, Sr. took the helm and began enacting some essential laws, including the building of a wall to protect the country from outsiders. He justified that after the recent pandemic, closing the country down would keep citizens free from disease, something Coffell touts as being the best way to return America to its past greatness. With the literal wall comes a digital one, where outside signals are blocked and ongoing technical research is banned. The only change at the top comes in the form of President Harry Coffell, Jr., who is happy to continue his father’s legacy with new and stricter rules to keep America for Americans. Within this administration, Kate Buchanan is at the helm of threat assessments for Homeland Security, looking for issues and passing them up the line. She’s personalised a secret program to synthesise the threats that emerge and offer some predictive analysis about what might be coming down the pipeline should certain things occur. What she discovers is something that could really rock the country. Meanwhile, Gideon Frome has returned to take up a senior position with the Secret Service, after being removed from the capital and sent to defend the Wall. Gideon has an interesting past, with a brother who went missing and labelled a rebel to American advances. After Kate devises a plan to trick Gideon into providing an essential piece of information, she is able to unlock additional databases within her program. With this knowledge, the ultimate plan of both POTUS and the Party emerges, which is even more terrifying than first thought. As Kate and Gideon begin to see that anyone who stands in the path ends up ‘accident prone’, they must race to dismantle an all but certain plan to keep democracy at bay and allow President Coffell to hold firm to power for as long as he desires. Soon the horrid epiphany comes to the surface: the Wall is not only meant to keep others out, but to keep Americans in, forever. Chilling in its approach and poignant in today’s political arena, Croft gives readers something to consider before November 3, 2020 and well into the future. Recommended to those who love political thrillers, as well as the reader who finds dystopian novels to their liking.

I discovered N.J. Croft earlier this year and cannot get enough of these novels. Not only are they poignant, but also provide the reader with something to think about throughout the reading experience. This piece utilises two protagonists to push the story forward, each bringing their own perspective to the story. Kate provides the reader with her insights into what America is becoming, based on the revelations of her computer program and the whispers that emerge through predictive reasoning. Her backstory provides the reader with some context about the larger storyline of a sister and pulls in her fellow protagonist. Kate’s character development comes to light as she better understands what I call the Coffell Doctrine—plan to see America remain under Martial Law and away from democratic elections—and uses her knowledge to attempt a derailment of the entire system for the love of her country. Gideon, on the other hand, has a vastly different backstory and his life experiences surely shape the man he has become. Interrogated and sent to defend the Wall, Gideon has war stories and injuries all his own, as well as an awkward dislike for the Coffell Administration, yet has been given a ‘crown jewel’ position within the Secret Service. While he is tasked with protecting the president, Gideon sees what is going on, if only with Kate’s help, and must decide which is more important to him. There are other characters who make an impact on the story and keep things moving in some very interesting directions. Croft creates those on both sides of the struggle and does not hold back in filling in many gaps as they relate to the larger plot developments. The story was quite strong and on par with some of the ‘crazy times’ America is experiencing under its current POTUS 45 administration, though this book certainly takes this a lot further. One can only guess that there is a degree of tongue in cheek here, though it does provide the insightful reader with some ideas of how far things could go if given the chance to push martial law and suspect elections. All that being said, there will be some who surely feel that Croft has gone too far, but they are also those who tend not to see the slippery slope on which they are standing or hope that blind faith will solve all the political and social woes that have befallen America. In a novel that propels the narrative forward with strong chapters of various lengths, Croft uses quotes by past US president to flavour what is to come in each new section. This keeps the reader guessing while also showing how presidential foreshadowing can effectively shed light on where things have gone at present. However one takes it, this is an eyebrow raising piece and I am pleased to have had the time to read it and ruminate before I watch Americans go to the polls (or mail in their ballots) on November 3rd. The rest is up to them!

Kudos, N.J. Croft, for this piece which kept me thinking throughout. I applaud your work and am so pleased to have tripped upon your writing by scouring Goodreads and locating some great recommendations.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: