Millennials these days, right? Strutting around with their avocado toast and their bedazzled flip phones. But this generation has it rough. The boomers complain that they don’t want to work, and they’re blamed for ‘ruining everything.’ But look at the state of the nation that is being turned over to them: livable wages are eroding, healthcare costs would be hilarious if they weren’t so depressing, and the rich continue to eat the poor while wiping their faces with the law. It’s enough to make some young folks angry enough to try something drastic. The system is objectively broken, so what kind of solution can truly make the world a better place?
This is the foundation for Michael Fletcher’s The Millennial Manifesto, in which four friends enact social change by forming a terrorist cell targeting the CEOs of corporations responsible for disgusting atrocities, but are immune to legal repercussions. Each of the four vigilantes has very different reasons for undertaking this venture, but when they don their superhero masks and begin kidnapping and exposing these psychopath CEOs to the public, they make a surprisingly competent team. But one of their targets, hell-bent on revenge, sends his private security detail after the group: a team of two violent former Special Forces soldiers and a smarmy, young tech guru. With every move the group makes, the security team gets closer, and their inevitable confrontation promises bloodshed and vengeance in which the whole world may stand witness.
In addition to the story being a fast-paced thriller, there are some interesting questions of morality, philosophy, and ethics that are presented to the reader. I felt that this was the book’s biggest strength more so than the resolution of the story within its own context. Is it okay to sacrifice a few to help the lives of the many? Isn’t that what the foundation of war is built on? Can the idea of creating domestic, targeted terrorist acts aimed at the leaders of the massive companies responsible for reprehensible acts ever be considered justified? The court system has failed the middle and lower classes, so how else can the responsible and heinous elite be punished? Shouldn’t these millennials be celebrated? What other options are left? When is enough, enough? These were all questions I enjoyed thinking about as the pages flew by, and it was a welcome surprise when I noticed that some of my own opinions changed over the course of the story. There are only two POVs—one from the terrorist group, and one from the security detail—and Fletcher strikes a nice balance of arguing the pros and cons of each side.
And since this is a Michael Fletcher novel, it’s pretty much a guarantee that things are going to go horribly wrong. When the hammer drops, things go sideways, and fat lady sings her heart out. (Three lame colloquialisms in one sentence, a new record!) The ending supplied an interesting wrinkle in how the reader can retroactively view the story in a different light, and I appreciated the level of skillful plotting that brought us to that point.
Fletcher continues to evolve as a writer, weaving through pitch-dark fantasy, near-future tech fiction, and now a daring, political thriller. And while The Millennial Manifesto is a different type of story that you’d come to expect from the author, that’s part of what makes his writing career so interesting to follow. His latest work is a fearless and inspirational call-to-arms for a generation who has been dealt a shitty hand. It’s long past time to go all-in and try something new to take down the untouchables. It might be the only way the next generation can survive.
Review by Adam Weller
8/10 from 1 reviews
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