I received this book from R&R Book Tours in exchange for a fair review, and I’m happy to share the review here as well!
Pulse is an award-winning self-published dystopian horror novel that employs a blend of genres and multiple points of view to give us a story that is both a critique of our world and a creature feature horror that gradually morphs into an apocalypse. This book has a lot of influences but still stands as its own story.
Pulse is a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centered around a corporation, a creature, and a music festival. Think Fyre Festival, Black Mirror, and X-Files combined. The story deals with themes of capitalism, consumerism, business, politics, pandemics, climate change, activism, and technology while bouncing between a diverse group of characters sure to entertain almost anyone. The book is already being praised for its fantastic use of horror, engaging world-building, and genre-bending approach utilizing some screenplay-like formatting. This is the first entry in a new series with the sequel well underway.
Pulse is set in a world where one company has almost monopolized the entire market of everything from food to electronics (I think there are like eight companies who own everything, all competing to own that much more). The company’s front is called Pulse, but they also have a hand in shaping US politics via bribing politicians and government entities to overlook aspects of their business. As to be expected, this is a dystopia where people aren’t happy, they are struggling to survive, and social media has even more of a hold on people’s lives (mainly because they can’t find happiness anywhere else as food and nature are hard to get on top of other stuff). There are some anti-corporate groups that want to expose some of the nefarious things Pulse has been doing, and plan to do so at a giant festival. What they didn’t count on was a mutant creature wreaking havoc.
The novel is both a lot of fun and a critique of corporation culture and corrupt governments. It’s about greed and selfishness, and people working to combat these things. Those aspects I really loved and appreciated.
In terms of characters, they fell a little flat for me because there are so many. In terms of the types of stories I lean towards, character-driven is more my preference, so this one didn’t dig into the character as much as I prefer. But, that’s just a preference. If you love a multi-POV story where the plot is explained like a mosaic – where small parts build the big picture – you’ll really like this one. And that’s not to say I didn’t care about the characters or wasn’t interested in their fate – they all had motivations that made sense and I was sad when some of them died.
The horror aspects of the novel are reminiscent of 80’s creature feature movies but without the campy nature of those films. The horror aspects are gory and gross, with no one being safe. It reminded me a bit of Slither without the dark humour, and even a bit of The Thing.
The horror parts were just awesome and when those aspects ramped up at the end, I flew through it. But another thing that didn’t work for me, but, again is a preference, is that dialogue and some scenes are told in a screenplay-like format. I wasn’t super keen on this, as I found it drew me away from the story. Rather than being immersed in it, I felt like I was watching something. Now, some people might love this technique, so I’m not saying it was poorly done or anything like that – it definitely wasn’t – it just didn’t add anything to the story for me.
In terms of plot, the story is intricately laid out, everything makes sense, and the story ends on a satisfying note but with definite room for more. Although heavily dystopian, this novel isn’t apocalyptic, but I’m guessing the sequel might be?
Overall, Pulse is an exciting, fun, and also serious novel that will make you think about how much we let big corporations get away with, and whether the end is coming sooner than we think.
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