Monday, February 20, 2012

Tag / Simon Royle

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller

Approximate word count: 135-140,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A native of England, Simon Royle has worked as an executive in advertising and as a senior manager in software companies. He lives with his family in Bangkok. For more, visit his website or his blog.

Royle also maintains The Indie View, a website aimed at Indie readers, with “Indie Views” (interviews) of Indie authors and reviewers of Indie books. Another feature of the site is an index of the latest reviews of Indie books from many of the web’s top review sites.


March 15, 2110 is cull day. The day a sinister plot put in motion by a group of the world’s elites will culminate. 6.3 million of the 9 million people in the United Nation (Earth, Mars, and the Moon), will die. When Jonah Oliver, an arbitrator (the new term for lawyer), discovers his past isn’t as he remembers and stumbles onto the plot, it is a race against time to save the people of the world.


My typical taste runs to thrillers. Science fiction is often a nonstarter. Combining both, Tag could have easily gone either way. It has a few of the elements that will sometimes turn me off in sci-fi. These include a lot of new technology, and new words and terms to learn.

My objection to the technology isn’t that it exists, but that it can sometimes become the story rather than assist it. This wasn’t an issue for me in Tag. The technology felt like a logical evolution from today to one hundred years into the future. It helped to define the story world, but didn’t overpower the plot, with the characters, their personalities, and how that drove their actions taking center stage, as they should.

My concern with language is that, if overdone, it can kill the flow of the story as the reader has to do an internal translation of the new words each time they see them. Royle uses many new terms. However, his word choices are easy to understand and quickly feel natural, as they often subtly reference other actual words in our vocabulary. Many are shortened words: kiloms as a measure of distance and mins for time. Dev is a generic electronic device, which combines what we would see as multiple functions in today’s world, while a devstick is a portable device. Lev is a means of a person transporting from one place to another which references both an elevator and the word levitate, with both words helping cement its use in the reader’s mind. His approach is a reminder that that the world is different, yet his choices emphasize the differences while not getting in the way due to the ease of adding them to the reader’s vocabulary.

The story is the typical thriller, with a protagonist thrust into a race against time where the price for failure is high. The futuristic setting provides a backdrop for several themes. The 1984ish theme of Big Brother, and how technology, while positive, also has negatives, especially in the area of privacy. How human nature is unchanging. That there will always be those who feel they are above everyone else and have no qualms in acting on those feelings. But I didn’t realize much of this until I had time to reflect, after the fast-paced ride to the end.


Some adult language and situations.

Although the author is originally from the UK, it appears that he used US spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos and proofing errors.

Rating: **** Four stars


Joansz said...

Even though I love science fiction, I have found that "technobabble" consistently turns off many readers, and as a result, turn away readers from this genre in general. Thank you for highlighting what could stop many from trying what would otherwise be a good read is not an issue here. [Interesting that this review should closely follow your review of Night Flight where you were taken to task for pointing out what might be a sticking point for some readers didn't have that affect on you.]

My sticking point regarding Tag is I have a Nook. *sigh*

BooksAndPals said...

Thanks as always for your comments, Joan. I'm afraid you're a victim of KDP Select with this book. That's a subject I've considered doing a post about, but my opinion of it is so fragmented I'm not sure I could do it justice.

I'm glad some people understood my point on the Night Flight review. My Facebook friends who see a constant stream of pro-same-sex marriage posts were surprised to find out about my prejudices. Once I made sure my gay sister understood and wasn't offended I stopped worrying about it. :)

Vicki said...

"But I didn’t realize much of this until I had time to reflect, after the fast-paced ride to the end."

I can relate to that. I'm not a big sc-fi fan, but I throughly enjoyed Tag. Mainly because, I think, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility.

BooksAndPals said...

I agree, Vicki. Some of it, including the negative parts, are a little closer to reality than I'd like.