I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a honest review. It takes a special book for me to leave the comforts of my preferred genres and I felt compelled to give The Controlled a try. All the reviews I found said the novel was a thought provoking study into the modern views of teaching, medication, government, and control. The Controlled had a profound effect on me of the novels I had to read in High School. Maybe not the books I would read on a day to day basis but boy have they stayed with me. This is an urban sci-fi view of what our modern world may become and I sure hope it doesn’t come to pass.
The format of the story is told in a very unique way. There are several POV characters P.J. Willett shows us each containing a vital role to the plot. The interesting thing is that we have the main story line told by one POV in each chapter and we also contain flashback chapters as new characters are introduced into the main story. Let me explain how this works in the novel and I’ll only talk about one character as to avoid giving away to much. Tom Brown is a teacher coming back to his class after a 6 month layoff. The reasons for that layoff are explained in the story but in his chapter we are introduced to his superior Sophie as he re-enters the school. At the end of every chapter it seemed like there was a mini-cliffhanger and then the following chapter would give a flashback for Sophie. This cycle will repeat itself throughout the novel and each one flashback is more shocking and disturbing than the last. Such is the reality of things we can’t fully understand in our on lives.
The main plot focuses on control and subjugation. Not of criminals or prisoners of war but of children who are deemed subs. Miscreants, bully’s, and outcast whom everyone with authority what to be ride of. The school itself is build like a fortress with only certain people having access to certain floors. When the subs are gathered into an auditorium on live television, something goes horrible wrong and everyone is thrown into chaos. People go crazy, blood is spilled, and the real motivation for what has been going on is slowly revealed in the most shocking of fashions. The modern spin on this old sci-fi troupe is one that has me shivering at the possibilities of one day becoming real.
P.J. Willett is a teacher himself and I’m sure he has used real life experiences in one way or another as influence for this book. The pacing is very fast and given that the book is just over two hundred pages, this made for a quick power read. The language is the same you would find in any high school around the global with tragic moments that everyone has seen or in some cases may have happened to them. The Controlled is a buyers beware tale of the cost of feeling safe and the sacrifices needed to attain that goal. What choices do children have in all this outside noise and do they truly have free will? Your head will be spinning just as mine was.
In my humble opinion, The Controlled should be taught in every university regardless of your major or choice of study. Not only because of the moral implications but the political ones as well. Be careful to whomever you give power to and make sure you can live with yourself afterwards. I normally don’t read novels these types of books but I’m so very glad I did. I could write for many hours about this book but I want everyone reading this review to give it a try. It will certainly make you wonder what could happen.