by Dylan S. Hearn
Second Chance is thrilling and chilling. There is blood and gore, but it is the cold-blooded, or even bloodless aspect of British society that is really at the core of this story of a political system that controls everything even beyond the grave.
There are four distinct threads to the story as well as sub-stories, as murky as the crumbling cityscape. Each chapter adds a little more detail to one of the main threads, and as Dylan Hearn pulls in the threads, we begin to see through the murk to where they are all going. And it’s not a nice place, I can tell you.
The technical parts, the cloning and regeneration, the memories that are replaced in the new brain, or not, depending, seem perfectly feasible to a non-techy person like me. The idea of cheating death on the one hand, is balanced against the massacres committed by the forces of law and order on the other. Petty crime might have become rarer because of the intricate system of police surveillance and the instant data search system that has replaced the internet, but for those who can manipulate the cameras, the police, and the data collected and redisseminated, there are no limits to what horrors can be perpetrated and the evidence wiped out.
The pace is relentless, the tension maintained right the way through. I was completely caught up in the way Second Chance unfolded—expecting the worst each time I turned a page. Dylan Hearn plays with notions of morality and ethics as much as he does with science and technology and it soon becomes clear that our notions of right and wrong have become distinctly warped in this near future. The characters are real. They are in the main, not likeable, and of course, given the theme of the story, not necessarily even bona fide ‘real’ people.
If I were to compare Second Chance to another novel, I would choose PD James’ The Children of Men. This treats a similar theme, the world gone wrong, rotten and above all, insidiously untouchable at its centres of control. I highly recommend Second Chance as a thrilling and disturbing read.
Sometimes it’s good to be disturbed.
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)