Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Rig by Joe Ducie

Will Drake has just been moved to the Rig, a maximum security prison for juveniles - a place where no one has ever escaped.  After escaping from his last detention centre (and the one before that) Will is a "special case", and he can look forward to at least five years on the Rig, stranded in the middle of nowhere on a converted drilling rig in the Arctic Ocean.  It seems like the perfect prison, and the inmates pay for everything they get - and in the case of Will they can rack up huge amounts of debt by breaking the rules and testing their limits.

Life on the Rig is an irritation for Will, he desperately wants to escape and return to the real world because there is somewhere he needs to be and he is working to a deadline.  It seems at first as though the Rig may be able to contain him, escape seems impossible with the armed guards and electronic surveillance of each inmate - but nothing is impossible if you really set your mind to it and Will is determined to escape no matter what the personal cost.  As the months slowly tick by Will realises that something is not quite right on the Rig, that there is a subtle undercurrent of "something" happening.  When Will finally discovers the truth about the Rig, the mind-blowing secret the Warden has been keeping, it may be too late for him to escape.

The Rig is a psychological thriller with a touch of science fiction and adventure - set in a future where the Alliance controls businesses and penitentiaries all over the world, and once you are under their control they can do pretty much anything they want to you.  Our (anti) hero Will Drake has ended up on the wrong side of the Alliance, and by default the law, so he has been incarcerated (although you don't find out why until quite late in the novel) in an escape proof prison.  It seems like the perfect backdrop for your average action adventure, but Ducie adds another level to the novel with a conspiracy of mind boggling proportions hidden under the layers of everyday life on the Rig.

I have to confess that I wasn't drawn into the story from the first word, first sentence, or even the first chapter - I was instead slowly drawn into the story and at first found myself thinking "maybe we'll learn more in the next chapter", and then I did learn more and wanted to know even more and before I knew it the story was half over and I really wanted to know what was going to happen next for Will and his friends.  This is something of an old fashioned story, old fashioned in the sense that it builds to the action slowly, creating a rich back story and introducing you to the supporting cast and story - rather than launching you with no warning into action and conspiracies with no clue about what is really going on. 

In some places it was a little slow for my taste, but I can appreciate why the pace was a little slower in places - and in a lot of ways it does feel like this was a screenplay in book form, like we can expect to see the movie in a few years once the rights are sold.  The Rig is one of those stories where talking about too much detail in the review will ruin some of the surprises, so I will instead say that fans of the Alex Rider series will find a lot to like here.

If you like this book then try:
  • Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Don't turn around by Michelle Gagnon
  • The hunger games by Suzanne Collins
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera
  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins
  • Nowhere by Jon Robinson
  • The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken
  • ACID by Emma Pass

Reviewed by Brilla

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