Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Political Thriller/Dystopian
Approximate word count: 125-130,000 words
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Details on Mathew Hopkins are sketchy. From his email submitting this book for review, I know he worked in the Middle East for many years, including Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s reign. From clues in his writing and some of the things on his website, I suspect he is from or now lives in the UK, although any non-US, English speaking country is a possibility.
If nothing else, you can find Hopkins’ opinions about many issues on his website.
“On the 150th anniversary of the day when John Wilkes Booth put a bullet through the head of Abraham Lincoln comes a new shock for America when radical Islamists desecrate war cemeteries across western Europe. Grassroots America has finally had enough. The sleeping tiger has been awakened, poked and prodded till it’s snarling and ready to kill, and then unleashed. Reprisals bring the National Guard and marshal [sic] law to the streets of America’s towns and cities while the nation’s Muslim population retreats behind hastily erected barricades. Vigilante groups pay no heed to the call for calm. The second amendment’s right to bear arms has become the right to wage war.
After weeks of tension, politicians join with community leaders to search for an answer. The only solution, a Homeland - right here in America. A place where peace-loving people can walk out in the street. A land where Muslims will live according to their own laws and traditions. An Islamic State.
Joe Abrahams is the son of a Jew and a Roman Catholic, and like his father before him he marries out of the religion he was born into. With a true and willing heart Joe embraces Islam, never guessing in those first happy days the pain he will soon know and the danger he must face escaping from the land that millions had hoped would be paradise on Earth.”
When submitting his book for review the author described it as being a “Political thriller with a speculative edge and a BIG side-order of religion.” The religious part, with characters and plot points involving multiple major religions (Islam, Christian, and Jew), wasn’t a big deal. I doubt it would be an issue for anyone, whether a non-believer or someone who practices one of the last two. Muslims might take offense at their portrayal.
The “speculative edge” Hopkins describes is enough for me to describe the book as dystopian. There may be some subtle reason I’m missing as to why that isn’t accurate, but I don’t know what. It takes place in the future (albeit, only a few years). While most dystopian stories start with the changes in society having already taken place, this story covers the transformation as well. As with all dystopian novels, there is a political message with an assumption that current events put us at the top of a slippery slope and the story in the book shows us what the author thinks the bottom of the slope might look like.
The premise, while in my opinion farfetched, was still plausible enough for me to suspend disbelief and I found the idea an interesting thought experiment. The protagonist, Joe, was easy to root for. At a high level, Islamic State is an interesting and entertaining story. However, it suffered from some technical issues with occasional repetitive or clunky sentences and instances of head-hopping. There were also numerous issues not caught in the copy editing and proofing process, most significant the homonym error of using the word ‘lead’ instead of ‘led.’
Although the book seemed to use US spelling conventions, it appeared for multiple reasons that the author’s native flavor of English is the UK version, primarily due to word usage and syntax.
Numerous proofing and copyediting issues. The worst offender, by far, was the use of the word ‘lead’ where the proper word would have been ‘led.’
Rating: *** Three Stars