Plot: In Degrade, the reader is caught up in a politically complex, bleak futuristic world where danger seems to lurk around every corner. Understanding the nuances of this world may initially challenge younger readers, but the ride becomes much smoother and more intriguing as the narrative progresses and characters are made more tangible.
Prose/Style: The prose in Lingane’s often claustrophobic novel is tightly woven, highly descriptive, and evocative.
Originality: The storytelling in Degrade evokes a number of familiar tropes—a scorched dystopian world, an orphaned young protagonist, warring factions forced to compete for limited resources—but the author excels at crafting a vivid sense of atmosphere with characters (both human and creaturely), esoteric enough to linger in the minds of readers.
Character Development: Arid is a scrappy, yet vulnerable young hero, who relies on his hard-earned instincts to survive. Lingane offers a generally distinctive cast of main and secondary characters, forged by their environments and respective roles.
Date Submitted: April 03, 2020
The descriptive passages are rich and visceral ... and the prose is tightly polished.
Blending elements of sci-fi and fantasy with dystopian horror and suspense, Mark Lingane has struck upon something special with Degrade, which bodes well for the rest of this riveting new saga.
Inyerface, banging action.
... there's much more to enjoy about Degrade. The first is the world it envisages - post apocalyptic, dry, stark, violent. It's realised with harsh and evocative prose on a desolate landscape. And the attention to detail is wonderful, from the huge mechanised cities through the desert monsters to the cyborgs and the strange, stuttering variety of English they speak.
And there's the large cast of characters, all lively and vivid and three dimensional. I found myself drawn most to Arid, the boy with a good heart and a lingo all his own, who finds himself in the middle of an intricate - and violent - chess match but whose good sense and ability to self reflect sees him through. But the ill-fated assassin tugged at my heartstrings. Then there's the intricate plotting - no straightforward goodies and baddies in this book, and the fearless mixing of styles from dystopian to speculative to steampunk, and the unflinching battle scenes, and the wonderful chases and the odd moment of profundity punctuating them all.