Bruechle’s novel is about striving in a cruel system rather than fighting it. Even after learning about the atrocities committed in the name of maintaining control over the populace, Biz schemes, betrays, lies, and manipulates himself farther up the Bastion chain of command, leaving his former friends to their fates. Biz’s involvement with a revolutionary faction seeking to remake society offers some suspense, but he’s not compellingly conflicted about his choices and difficult to sympathize with by design. With few interests other than his own advancement, the pace at times stalls, as the pages detail the natural disaster that spawned the present regime and the gases that control human behavior and potential.
Life in this cruel dictatorship is depicted with clear prose, and the story will appeal to readers interested in what humanity can become at its worth. Bruechle takes pains to make it hard to invest much hope in any one character or “side.” Western culture is castigated, while the dystopian society’s nebulous enemies “to the East” seem resigned and uncaring in the face of hostile occupation. Readers interested in the dystopian side of dystopian fiction rather than heroics may enjoy this grim story, more Brave New World than The Hunger Games, but those looking for hope will find little here.
Takeaway: This dystopian exploration of compliance and betrayal will appeal to readers fascinated by how far humanity can sink.
Great for fans of: Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Psyman" by Nick Bruechle.]
4 out of 4 starsShare This Review
Does patience always yield the expected fruits? Gneiss, who taught his first class for over ten years, gave the best of his lessons to his favorite pair, Biz and Bock. He hoped to use them as tools of change to the world. He dreamt of a better future and did everything that he thought was good for the pair to yield such a future. What would Biz and Bock offer him in return?
The Psyman by Nick Bruechle is a well-knit novel that reflects on how people make decisions that impact their lives and that of others. Some experience a great awakening in the process of becoming good citizens while others only think of ways to control the lives of other people for their selfish gains. I loved the contrast that played between the selfless and the selfish. For instance, the great ruler of the world in this novel, Joe, driven by his cabinet uses the Interface to keep his subjects glued to their ‘cocoons’. Cocoons would be the equivalent of a hi-tech device that streams different videos and pieces of information with the intent of keeping the populace away from thinking independently. The three tools that are used in controlling them are freedom, fear, and fame. On the other hand, Gneiss came up with a plan that would help people gain their freedom, especially from the influence of the cocoons.
The characters in The Psyman, though many, are well developed. Characters, such as Nib, Globe, Necker, Bloat, Dirndl, Navel, Knead, Particle, and Mandril made me develop a clear understanding of the themes incorporated in the book. Some of the themes include, but not limited to, the effect of social media and technology on society, capitalism, dictatorship, the use of psychological manipulation and its effects, and misuse of power.
Although this turned out to be an enjoyable read, it took quite a while for the story to grab my attention. The first third of the book, where most of the characters were being introduced, was quite an uphill climb. The other two-thirds flowed really well. The suspense factor was well executed as I always looked forward to finding out more about what Biz was up to, especially with his ‘hidden’ interest on Particle. The end of the novel came as a surprise as the series of events took a different twist than what I would have looked forward to. I loved it the most.
I believe that this is a book for everyone, especially those who are imprisoned by social media and fame. I strongly recommend it to young readers who find it difficult to sculpt a life of their own outside the influence of social media. The novel does have several instances of profanity. Those who are easily offended by such should stay away from it.
The Psyman deserves a perfect score. Thus, I gladly give it 4 out of 4 stars. I did not give it a lower rating because the author did a very good job in world-building and character development. It was professionally edited.