Barricade by Jon Wallace
Barricade is an interesting novel. It is set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where battle still rages between the Ficials and the Reals (humans). This world is dark and grim with both sides dying exponentially, which leaves the reader with a lot of questions as to why and how this has happened. The novel follows a Ficial called Kentsibec, a taxi driver in this new world who is given a mission to drive a fare between the barricades of Edinburgh to London.
What is a Ficial? It is an artificial being created to serve the people of the United Kingdom in their lives and Kentsibec was originally optimised for construction. They do not have emotions and due to the existence of nanos in their bloodstream they have enhanced endurance and durability, allowing full healing from most injuries. This leads us to the question: How are the Ficials made? Are they cloned or bred from cells?
As previously mentioned, this novel is set in the United Kingdom but it is one that is almost unrecognisable. The major cities are held by the Ficials and they have built the Barricades to keep out the Reals. Their last instruction from Control before nuclear war commenced was to cull the Reals as this would save the world. There is not a lot of information given about what is happening to the rest of the world but there is an understanding that it is even worse there.
I liked structure to Barricade, where it begins first in the past, when Kentsibec is still owned by a human. He is asked the question “Are you on our side?” This is interesting as while Kentsibec has thoughts at this time he does not act independently, he always does as he is told, either by his owner or by Control. The narrative then moves forward to the present and the main story where we follow Kentsibec in his new function as a taxi driver, preparing to pick up a fare and start the long and dangerous drive to London. Each chapter ends with a flashback to the past, showing the world leading up to the cull and I found this really useful as it showed how the UK ended up in the state it currently is.
Ficials are built on rationality and logical thought but this doesn’t mean that they do not have personality beyond their function – they do, but it is limited and more of a functional progression following the end of Real society. Can Ficials grow and learn? This is a question that should be asked throughout the book as while a Ficial can seem human in some ways, in others they are far beyond.
We meet a number of Ficials and Reals throughout the story, all of whom are dealing with their own issues, living as they do in a post nuclear world. The Reals appear to be worse off due to the nuclear fallout and new diseases that are slowly eradicating the survivors. The main Real that Kentsibec has to deal with is never actually given a name, he is instead known simply by the nickname “Fatty”. He is an interesting character and clearly shows that humanity’s need to survive can be an overpowering drive. Fatty is a foil to Kentsibec’s calmness in the face of adversity, he is always raging at the injustices and fulfilling the Ficials prejudices against Reals. His behaviour raises the question of whether human unpredictability is a weakness or strength.
I found Barricade to be a fast-paced action adventure, full of dilemmas that need to be overcome. The book left me with many questions, two of which were: Why is there always fear of the unknown? Does being logical mean you always know best? These questions not only relate to this story but also relate to the world around us.
This Barricade book review was written by Michelle Herbert
All reviews for: Kenstibec
Kenstibec is a member of the 'Ficial' race, a breed of merciless super-humans. Their war on humanity has left Britain a wasteland, where Ficials hide in barricaded ...
Kenstibec is a Ficial - a genetically engineered artificial life form; tough, skilled, hard to kill. Or at least he was. He's lost the nanotech that constantly repaired...
‘My nanotech is dead. By definition I am no longer Ficial. On the other hand I don't experience your emotions. That makes me inhuman. Like I said: neither one nor...
Have you read Barricade?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Barricade reader reviews
Lee from UK
I did enjoy this book. It's not perfect, there was more than one occasion where I though 'hold on a moment, that doesn't fit right' but the overall energy of the narrative, and the detailed characterization, made this book a winner for me. As Peter's review (listed before mine) states, any who were enthralled by the robot stories of yesteryear (Asimov in particular) and also enjoy themes of dystopia will definitely enjoy this book. I would also like to second Peter's comment on the book being more subtle than the reader may initially give it credit for. It's simply a good book and I'm now on book two Steeple and enjoying it too.
Peter from UK
I chose Barricade to read because I have always fondly remember the robot stories from my youth, especially the ones which explore robots beginning to experience human emotions. I also like films such as A. I. and I, Robot which explore similar themes. So I have to admit to feeling disappointed after the first few chapters as it looked like I wasn't going to get the book I'd hoped for. But of course this is not the fault of the author and so I began to enjoy the book on its own merits and chapter by chapter I found myself enjoying it more and more until by the end I was left happy, satisfied at having finished a worthy read. Barricade is a road-trip with good characterisation (insomuch as an android can have character) and I believe it was far more subtle than I gave it credit for. The biggest compliments I can pay is that I always looked forward to reading it and finished it in only a few days. I would say that it falls more under the dystopia/speculative fiction umbrella than science fiction but readers of all three sub-genres will enjoy it. I would definitely recommend it =.
7.8/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi...
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag...
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun...
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres...
Oryx and Crake
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo...
The Last Man Standing
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa...
A boy stands on the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain.No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment.No directions, as w...
The Drowned World
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows ...
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological di...
Great fantasy books published in 2014
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
The University, a renowned bastion of knowledge, attracts the brightest minds to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences like artificing and alchemy. Yet deep below i...
Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service ...
Words of Radiance
Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from ...
Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side. Once the Oversight, the secret society that polices the lines betwee...
Queen of the Dark Things
Two boys, spirited away into a dark world of myth and folklore that has lived, grown and changed alongside our world, have grown into men and now make their way. But faerie...
Prince of Fools
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
Dreams and Shadows
The Limestone Kingdom, a parallel universe where whisky-swilling genies and foul-mouthed wizards argue over the state of the metaphysical realm. Having left the spirit worl...
Actions have consequences. For Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg, those consequences involve prison. Specifically, an extraterrestrial prison where he and pretty much...
In Dark Service
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: