Title: The End of Marking Time
Author: C.J. West
Published: May 2010
Source: Provided by the author
Buy at: Amazon | The Book Depository
Gifted housebreaker, Michael O'Connor, awakens inside an ultramodern criminal justice system where prison walls are replaced by surveillance equipment and a host of actors hired to determine if he is worthy of freedom. While he was sleeping, the Supreme Court declared long term incarceration to be cruel and unusual punishment and ordered two million felons released. The result was utter chaos and the backlash from law-abiding citizens and police departments reshaped the United States. Felons now enter reeducation programs where they live freely among the population. At least that's what they think. In reality they are enslaved to an army of counselors and a black box that teaches them everything they failed to learn from kindergarten through adulthood. Michael believes he's being tested by the black box, but what he slowly begins to realize is that everything he does is evaluated to determine whether he lives or dies.
The setting of the book is set up in the near future, when US justice system has been renewed to minimize or demolish prison system, in which the prisoners or re-learners are re-educated to learn to be law abiding citizens. It started out intriguing, the plot line is compelling and very straight forward. However, it succeed to maintain the puzzles till the end which I have to think the rational behind the story the whole reading time. West did an amazing job portraying the character, Michael which is a career criminal, as a very troubled young guy he was and quite forcing me as a reader to look down at the character. At some moment, I feel anxiously angry but yet sympathy at Michael. Although his crime maybe not violent, harmless and what he did to support his life is utterly wrong, I can't help thinking that how sorry I am to him. The character's thinking is so simple, yet resulting him to pay for what he did along the re-education period.
The writing was entertaining and I was absorbed with the story but not totally. Its story is engaging and continue intensifying the thrills until the climax. I have such a high hope for the character to successfully graduate from the re-education program and free from the questionable process of getting a 'certificate' to live among the citizens. I like the ideology of the story and really for some moment I can accept the re-education experiments. But when it comes to the ending and twisted in such way, it turned my stomach and I felt totally horrible. I never see it's coming but it is brilliant! It is mind blasting and yes, very original. I don't think I've ever read something fresh like this. Totally recommended.
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Disclaimer: I received a review copy courtesy of Author C.J. West in exchange for a fair review. Receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review and these are my honest review.