A scholarship student at a private high school decides he must kill the president as an act of environmental protection.
★ EDITOR'S CHOICE, Booklife ★ NOTABLE BOOK, Blue Ink Review ★
18-year-old Ben Wallace didn’t set out to become an environmental activist, let alone a presidential assassin. But after a mind-altering experience and two near tragedies, Ben discovers some facts about earth’s rapid global warming and none of it is good news:
◆ “A Species Goes Extinct Every 20 Minutes, 26,000 A Year”– NY Times
◆ “Worldwide, 7 Million People A Year Die from Air Pollution” – Science Daily
◆ “Humankind Has Wiped Out 60% of All Animals Since 1970” – Guardian
Ben becomes outraged by the president’s climate change lies, attacks on climate science, and destruction of the natural world. He decides there is only one solution—a desperate, but necessary act of environmental activism and social justice to protect his generation—Ben must kill POTUS.
At his exclusive private school, Ben becomes a loner, self-isolated from the other students who appear—on Instagram anyway—not to have a care in the world. Not a single student seems to notice the planet is burning. It's all too much denial and lies—he's got to act! Skipping his meds and therapist to prepare for his mission, the actions of this teenage vegan stress-tests the line between madness and morality.
During the six weeks leading up to his assassination of the President of the United States, Ben realizes he’ll never get close enough to kill the president with a gun. Instead, he hatches a realistic hi-tech strategy, meticulously prepping for the daunting challenge he faces to assassinate a president.
Throughout this controversial climate change novel, Ben grapples with the philosophical, practical, and moral reasons that make his radical actions necessary. Mr. Hale, Ben's STEM teacher, and a former Navy Seal sees that his best student is struggling and attempts to take Ben under his wing. But Hale makes a fateful mistake by ignoring the signs of Ben's unraveling.
With a narrative structure that springs from Ben's brief journal entries, a ritual that helps him process his overactive mind into a singular confessional voice, the events tighten into a gripping suspense thriller racing to a shocking conclusion. For those who feel like its young protagonist, angry and helpless as we blow past irreversible tipping points, the novel is an urgent battle cry—if not to take up arms, then to become a climate change activist fighting against humankind’s extinction.
⚠ WARNING: Snowflake, a Cli-Fi novel and political thriller, is a work of contemporary historical fiction—it swims the current of America's craziest cultural waters and terrifying global warming facts. But the climate science Ben cites is real, the politics are true, and the president’s attacks against the environment are accurate. So, as it promotes the truth about climate change, some may find Snowflake a dark and disturbing novel.⚠
Plot: The author delivers a topical novel about a teen with intense personal views regarding the state of the world, and a misguided approach to resolving circumstances beyond his control.
Prose/Style: The troubled, passionate young protagonist’s voice is alluring and immediate. The integration of news headlines and facts relating to the ravages of climate change provide texture to the narrative, while Ben’s increasing desperation is tangible.
Originality: This novel is original in concept and journal-like structure. The contentious political climate referenced throughout, however, will be woefully familiar to readers. While readers may recognize and relate to much of Ben’s concern and anger, pointed allusions to the president currently in power, leave little room for imagination and can sometimes prove detrimental.
Character Development: Jevon’s characters are convincingly rendered, and are very much “of-the-moment.” The author carefully juxtaposes Ben’s clearly ill-advised and dangerous actions as a result of mental illness with his astute awareness of the very real dangers facing the planet. The novel’s strength may ultimately prove to be a weakness: readers living in the world Jevon so aptly captures, may wish nothing more than to escape it.
Date Submitted: July 22, 2020
Benji stealthily builds a plastic gun using a 3-D printer and instructions downloaded from the internet while ruminating on the most effective way to carry out a presidential assassination. Jeon deftly chronicles how despair, deeply held principles, and depression can combine to influence horrifying outcomes. As Benji’s mind goes to darker and darker places, the author keeps the plot razor-wire taut and readers turning the pages as quickly as they can.
Jeon’s background in Hollywood gives this narrative the feeling of a box-office blockbuster. Disturbing yet compelling, the dark storyline feels eminently plausible, bolstered by actual tweets from the current U.S. president and real headlines, including accurate environmental statistics. Memorable supporting characters—especially Benji’s sister June and his teacher, John Hale—ably underpin the tale. Any reader with an awareness of current events will devour this in one sitting.
Takeaway: Jeon’s ripped-from-the-headlines stunner based on current events and world leaders will be impossible for readers to put down.
Great for fans of Sam Bourne’s To Kill the President, Robert Wood Anderson’s Resurrection Runner.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A+
Arthur Jeon’s gripping new novel offers a compelling portrait of a young man in crisis.
Taking the form of 18-year-old Benji Wallace’s journal, Snowflakebegins as a wildfire forces Benji and his family to evacuate their California home. Although they’re quickly able to return, this upheaval heightens the anguish Benji already feels over climate change.
A thoughtful vegan with a prodigious memory, he records his days at school and relationships with his well-meaning parents, feisty kid sister and beloved dog. But teenage awkwardness quickly gives way to suffocating despair as Benji contemplates the state of the world and the antics of the current president (clearly meant to be Donald Trump, although Benji refers to him as “Cretin”).
Unable to stand by any longer, Benji decides to assassinate Cretin. His plan hits both practical setbacks and the intrusion of his own conscience, fueled by conversations with his parents and his sensitive STEM teacher, but he perseveres. As Benji’s mental state deteriorates from lack of sleep and the ever-increasing urgency he feels, the novel careens toward a devastating conclusion.
Snowflake’s controversial topic and relatively downbeat ending will likely be deal breakers for some. Jeon’s treatment, however, is nuanced and far from sensational. Benji’s raging emotions are so unnervingly palpable that readers will feel they’re riding the same internal rollercoaster, and while Cretin is undoubtedly the book’s major villain, Jeon compels readers to question other forces in Benji’s life. Are the adult characters perhaps too understanding and trusting for Benji’s good? What roles do information overload and technology play in his decisions? Is Benji really as superior as he feels to his Instagram-obsessed classmates, or is he choosing an equally simplistic solution to his problems? These are great conversation-starters for older teens, either among themselves or with the adults in their lives.
Though not for everyone, Snowflake will be immensely rewarding for those willing to tackle its tough subject matter, young adult and adult readers alike.
A troubled teenager pursues a radical plan to head off climate change in Jeon’s YA thriller.
Eighteen-year-old Ben Wallace remembers everything he’s ever experienced or read. It may seem like a superpower, but in practice, it’s a curse—one that requires him to see a therapist and to cathartically record his thoughts in a journal to cope. These methods aren’t enough, however, as he becomes increasingly unsettled by stories about world events. Wildfires threaten his Los Angeles home, the world’s future is being destroyed by climate inaction, and Ben’s wealthy neighbors—and the U.S. government—just ignore the problem. His classmates at school seem more concerned with selfies and social media than they are with environmental issues. He soon becomes radicalized, particularly after his asthmatic younger sister, June, ends up in the hospital due to air pollution. It isn’t long before an idea takes root in his head and refuses to go away: In order to save the world, he’ll have to kill the man who’s hurting it the most—the climate change–denying president of the United States. He finds a sympathetic ear in John Hale, a former Navy SEAL who now works as Ben’s STEM teacher. Will the educator be able to stop Ben’s drift into extremism? Ben’s character feels believable, and most readers will find his frustrations over the facts of climate change—which he’s incapable of forgetting or ignoring—to be warranted. The book is formatted as if it’s Ben’s personal journal, and as a result, the narration contains more than a bit of hyperbolic teenage petulance: “Above us, the museum, crapped onto a beheaded mountain by a billion dollars, squats behind a burka of smoke.” He rants against “Fakebook” and “Insta-Lie,” pornography, hunting, and other targets—so much so that when he finally takes action—ill-advised as it may be—the reader won’t be able to help but feel a dark sense of relief. It all builds quite compellingly to a conclusion that seems designed to court controversy. For the most part, though, readers will be left with a sense of hopeless exhaustion.
A topical and angst-ridden, if unsubtle, novel that pulls no punches.
Earth is on fire, both literally and metaphorically. Environmental degradation, including air, water, and soil pollution, and extinction of wildlife and habitat destruction is just the tip of the iceberg. Global organizations, NGOs, nations, and citizens have created a global community fighting for the planet’s fate through awareness campaigns, donations, environmental regulations, and laws, but there are those who believe that more drastic measures should be taken.
Enter Ben Wallace or Benji for short, the story’s protagonist. He’s an 18-year-old scholarship student at a fancy private high school who is dealing with his own personal demons. He’s a loner, isolated from others by choice. In the pages of his journal, he finds solace—even if it’s for a short time. While he watches the other students being completely ignorant of what is going on in the world, as far as climate change is concerned, and reading articles and studies that lead him to dark and darker places, he makes a stunning discovery: killing the President of the United States of America will make the world a better place, according to his way of thinking.
So, for the next weeks, he orchestrates a plan to accomplish his purpose. It may seem like an unorthodox and mentally problematic plan but Ben, during his journal entries, analyzes everything—his decision and actions—and he even provides accurate data to support his cause. Some might describe him as an environmental activist, some a terrorist or a threat to national security, some might call him mentally ill. For him, he’s doing the right thing, and nobody can persuade him for anything less.
Snowflake is a fast-paced Environmental Contemporary Thriller. The writing is impeccable, the plot well organized, and the end stays with the reader long after the book is over. Turning the pages one after the other to find out what happens next is a success that author Arthur Jeon takes all the credit. Ben could easily be any 18-year-old living anywhere in the world. He’s so authentic as a character, and that is exactly what makes Snowflake so unique. It’s a story that speaks of the hard, cold truth. Sometimes we need that in order to see the world more clearly and for what it really is.
The Times Of Israel
Get ready for a new climate-themed novel titled “Snowflake” by Harvard-educated (class of 1985) novelist and screenwriter Arthur Jeon. While this blogger is based in Taiwan and he’s based in California, we were able to set up an email exchange about his debut novel. Here is some of what he told me.
“Snowflake" is a climate thriller and firmly lands in the category of fiction trying to communicate our climate emergency, he told me, adding: “Because Benji, the main character, is OCD, and the novel is told through the structure of his personal journal, it is full of real and current headlines as the reasons he must act on climate issues. While the novel has a young protagonist and is therefore a bit of a YA novel, it’s not for anybody under the age of 15. Gen-Z response has been great, as well as responses from mature audiences that like nonfiction and thrillers.”
“I feel like we must urgently get the word out and have spent three years wrapping the latest research in a fast-moving story,” he continued.
A modern-day climate thriller meets think piece, Snowflake chronicles the journal entries of Ben Wallace, a brilliant high school senior who sees the world beyond his years. Some might say he’s an “old soul,” while others dismiss him as a bleeding heart vegan liberal due to his progressive views on climate change, eating meat, hunting, factory farming, pollution, species conservation, and overpopulation.
Often called a “snowflake” or “Soy Boy” (as one school bully nicknames him), Ben must constantly defend himself in an out-of-touch gen-Z world consumed with Instagram, selfies, memes, and TikTok.
As a gifted student who obsessively reads scientific papers, Ben is all too familiar with the present-day attacks on our environment and frequently experiences what he refers to as “obsessive climate spirals” – often triggered by horrifyingly authentic tweets, quotes, and news headlines (i.e. “Humans Speeding Extinction, Altering Natural World at Unprecedented Pace” & “Worldwide, 7 Million People A Year Die from Air Pollution”).
Presented with these terrifying truths regarding “climate chaos” and the fate of the world, Ben predicts a looming environmental catastrophe–humanity’s imminent self-extinction. He recognizes how this impending ecological disaster is provoked by the current President of the United States, who not only passes policies with no consideration for climate change but denies that it exists altogether–putting the entire globe at risk.
After a profound mind-altering experience and two nearly fatal family tragedies, Ben experiences a spiritual awakening as he recognizes how all life is connected and that we’re all simply animals fighting to survive. Radicalized by humanity’s downfall (and perhaps his skipped anxiety meds and therapy sessions), while simultaneously guided by his love of animals, philosophy, and moral justice, Ben pledges to take action in pursuit of his grand “Idea,” as he calls it–to assassinate the president in an ultimate act of environmental defense. This becomes Ben’s daily mantra for six weeks leading up to his grand scheme. Ben recognizes, “If you keep letting something go, it never ends.”
Confronted with daily media headlines like “A Species Goes Extinct Every 20 Minutes, Over 26,000 A Year,” Ben can’t simply ignore the grim state of the world and “wait for the broken machinery of our system to repair itself.” After all, “What future do any of us have in the face of such destruction?”
But no matter how enraged, this vegan 18-year-old activist makes a rather unlikely assassin as he even feels remorse over the accidental killing of a silverfish. Because of this, he struggles daily with the philosophical, practical, and moral reasons that render his actions not only justified but necessary.
This may seem like a heady mixture, but it’s all wrapped up in a fast-paced and compelling thriller that keeps the pages turning. You’ll find yourself effortlessly consuming information about real-world issues, without feeling like you’re stuck in a classroom.
No doubt, Snowflake is bursting at the seams with facts and inspiration, empowering readers with the knowledge and gall to take action against environmental injustices. Ultimately, Ben envisions a better world and maps out the steps to get there in what eventually becomes a modern-day manifesto, inspiring future generations to come.