“The Trial Show” by Konstantina P.

I see this whole story as a metaphor for the teenage experience. It’s ostensibly an Alternate Future novel where the Resistance fights a losing battle against a repressive government. It should be a story about how tight friendships triumph over the faceless bureaucracy. However, at least two of the freedom fighters are double agents, everybody is lying to everybody else for various personal and political reasons, and all of them are feeling guilty about it. The whole scenario reverberates with angst like a high school lunchroom.

Unlike most thrillers of this sort, the external conflict is secondary to the internal conflicts in the characters. This is a good thing, because the complicated plots within plots are endlessly discussed, but unfinished sentences and unexplained details leave the reader not sure what is going on.

Withholding information is an accepted technique in action novels to create tension, but if you don’t tell us enough, we don’t know what to expect, and this reduces suspense. When we’re not clear what the objective is, we can’t worry about whether the hero is winning or losing, because we just don’t know.

Another choice upon which this author and I disagree is the constant shifting of point of view. When we keep seeing the story from the viewpoint of different antagonistic characters, it keeps us from connecting deeply with anyone.

And lastly, this novel needs a good copy edit. There are too many convoluted sentences, singular and plural switches, and changing from past to present tense, and this stops the easy flow of our reading.

Fortunately, when we get to the final conflict, everything smooths out and simplifies, and we get great action. We see what the objectives are and can plot a line to success or failure. There is all sorts of tension, and all the emotion comes together in a gut-wrenching finale.

This is a difficult book to rate. The first half deserves a 2, the writing a 3, and the final third a 5. If you like a lot of emotional conflict, you’re going to find this book just great.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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