A great conclusion to this trilogy that has gone from strength to strength
Rig is the final novel in Jon Wallace’s trilogy which started with Barricade and continued with Steeple, both reviews can be found here: Barricade and Steeple. If you haven’t read these books, you should probably do so before reading the rest of this review. During the first two books, we have followed Kenstibec (now known as Ken) from his beginning as a Ficial doing the bidding of Control, to becoming the destroyer of his kind after being infected with a virus that robbed him of his ficialness. This last novel helps answer the question of what Ken has become on his long-standing journey of discovery.
Each of the three novel’s titles describe one of the places that Ken has either come from or is going to and Rig does not stray from this formula. Rig starts around six months after the events of Steeple, Ken is now part of the crew of The White Bear, which is ably led by Marsh. The White Bear is one of the ships that protects and gathers resources for The Lotus and its inhabitants. The Lotus has many secrets, but its aim is to restart humanity and allow it to grow into a better society than the one that came before. This sounds idyllic, with the Lotus acting like an impenetrable fortress it leads the characters into a false sense of security.
Rig itself spans a much larger geographical area than the previous novels, as the events of this book are set on the Atlantic Ocean. This also gives us the chance to see how the world outside of the UK has changed. Rig comes with new challenges and introduces us to a larger cast of characters that Ken has to interact with. On the Lotus, Ken can finally be himself, as the adults on The Lotus know that he was once Ficial so he no longer needs to try and blend in. Rig focuses on who Ken has to become once the Lotus finds themselves facing the fanaticism of New Jerusalem.
What has been inspiring is how much Ken has grown as a character from the first to the third novel. In the first novel Ken was purely ficial with no understanding of emotions and yet by the third book his insight into real emotions has developed and he shows tolerance towards the human condition. This is due to Ken grudgingly admitting to caring for others and stepping up when he needs to.
The Rig itself is a complicated social environment with many rules that Ken and the other survivors of The Lotus have to acclimatise themselves to. Once they get the hang of surviving everyday situations on the rig, they learn about The Game. The Game itself is reminiscent of The Running Man, where it is equally deadly and rigged, but is also the greatest form of mass entertainment as well as the easiest way to control a large population. Winning The Game gets you transferred to the Ship where everyone lives out their days in good health, wealth and security, which is the dream of everyone working on the rig. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Jon Wallace novel without very creepy undertones and sinister happenings behind the scenes. At times it seems that the question for Ken is: Will he be able to keep his new found friends alive long enough to work out his own feelings for them?
I have really enjoyed reading Rig. It was a great conclusion to this trilogy that has gone from strength to strength. Rig itself felt very poignant by the end of the novel, it encompasses Ken’s search for self and as well as reasons to exist. Ken is a fantastic character who has really grown on me. It was nice to see some returning characters (I don’t want to say who), but they really helped ground Ken’s long journey and helped remind me what had come before.
Review by Michelle Herbert
2 positive reader review(s) in total for the Kenstibec series
Jon Wallace is a science fiction author based in London, England. His debut novel, "Barricade", is published on June 19 2014 from Gollancz. A review of that book can be read here.Michelle Herbert spoke with Jon a we [...]
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