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November 29, 2018
The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman Angry Robot Sci Fi & Fantasy Pub Date 06 Nov 2018
Normally I enjoy science fiction/noir blends, but I didn’t enjoy The Subjugate as much as I expected.
Amanda Bridgeman does a good job juxtaposing the technology free world of the Children of Christ and the rich in technology world of Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitch Grenville. The detectives are fish out of water investigating the murder of a young woman of the Children of Christ. Suspicion falls on the Subjugates of the Solme Complex. ( Subjugates are violent criminals or sexual predators conditioned and neurally edited to find violence and sexuality anathema. Those who successfully complete the experimental program become Serenes. Serenes and certain Subjugates are allowed into the town of the Children of Christ to work. )
I quickly became frustrated with the detectives, particularly Mitch, as they stubbornly pursue pet theories and ignore evidence. Boredom followed frustration. Much of the novel was repetitive, and the plot was predictable, so much so that I knew what was going to happen long before the end. Bridgeman makes the culprit obvious from almost the beginning.
My guess is that Bridgeman wanted to make The Subjugate a piece of social commentary, and overdid it. As in A Clockwork Orange, conditioning is violent and painful, akin to torture. Like those that participated in the Stanford Prison Experiment, people forced to torture others became more violent and more extreme. Who is evil, the subjugate who can no longer choose violence or the “healer” who regularly applies violence as a means of forcing change. A lesser question raised regards our reliance on technology - aid or addiction?
Amanda Bridgeman’s intentions are good, but The Subjugate is flawed - too predictable, too repetitive and the leads behave too much like amateurs.
3 / 5
I received a copy of The Subjugate from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Two troubled homicide detectives race to find a serial killer in a town filled with surgically reformed murderers, in this captivating near-future SF thriller.
In a small religious community rocked by a spree of shocking murders, Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitch Grenville find themselves surrounded by suspects. The Children of Christ have a tight grip on their people, and the Solme Complex neurally edit violent criminals - Subjugates - into placid servants called Serenes. In a town where purity and sin, temptation and repression live side by side, everyone has a motive. But as the bodies mount up, the frustrated detectives begin to crack under the pressure: their demons are coming to light, and who knows where that blurred line between man and monster truly lies.