Book Review: Into the Fire

Into the Fire by Peter Liney, The Detainee Trilogy #2

Having escaped the Island – a wasteland that housed those no longer able to contribute to society – ageing ‘Big Guy’ Clancy thought his fight was over. But they have returned to the mainland to find that it is not the haven they anticipated. 

With the punishment satellites that kept them on the Island – and the city under control – gone, hell has been unleashed. A mysterious organisation has begun to decimate the population; those it doesn’t kill outright are herded into the streets and then set free to run – for the rich and powerful to hunt. Clancy is about to discover that his work is far from over. The fires of hell don’t burn much hotter than this. 

Last year Jo Fletcher published the debut of Peter Liney, The Detainee, a futuristic dystopian story. In his debut Peter Liney created a new concept where the sick, elderly and unwanted children were sent to an Island, on this Island there were no police officers, only hovering sattelites that kept the population at bay... until a mist would cover the Island and the sattelites couldn't see any longer. This allowed for a brief period of time where in chaos would run free with horrible results when the fog clears. Peter Liney wrote a solid story and create a hauntingly vision in The Detainee. He did leave his story open on a cliffhanger in The Detainee, where Clancy and his friends managed to break free from the Island. 

I did have one reservation when I picked up Into the Fire, having escaped the Island I was wondering just how Peter Liney would take his story further. Being contained on the Island gave a very clear picture as what the setting was and especially with all that went about added a certain level of danger. Well just a heads up, the mainland isn't a pretty place to be either... and soon Clancy and his friends would have wished to stay on that Island just a little longer... It is just as or even more dangerous than the Island.

In the end of The Detainee Clancy and the other on the Island managed to escape to the mainland. The story of Into the Fire picks up directly after the events of The Detainee. Clancy, Jimmy and Lena have managed to wash up a shore and the first moment they have when arriving on the mainland is a sense of joy and happiness finally being able to say goodbye to the horrid Island, but soon this sense of joy is over as they are present with the bleak reality, the Mainland is just as a hell on Earth as the Island was. However it wasn't so in the first place. Jimmy shut down all the satellites that controlled the human population and what he and Clancy hadn't thought about was that the satellites would also keep general population on the Mainland in check. Thus, they find themselves in a completely destroyed environment. The population ran rampaged looted every store and caused destruction of everything that could be destroyed. Clancy and his friends soon find out that there is one organization that is running the show (no pun intended) on the Mainland, a Media Cooperation that took over the reigns and has turned the Mainland in just a fearful place to live as the island. Soon Clancy and his company make it to a safe place but there is one problem money... Clancy doesn't have any spare change on him. He has to make money fast, Clancy hasn't always been the best guy and still has his addresses here and there for a job, he readily accepts one that will give him some pocket money. But when he gets to the location he is introduced to an old acquaintance. His half brother Ray. This wasn't something that Clancy had thought would happen, but Clancy will sacrifice everything in order to help his loved ones and most of all to help Lena recover her sight. If you thought that wasn't enough soon after their landing on the Mainland and trying to start over and pick up their old lives Clancy has run-ins with Infinity agents on more than one occasion (those dragonflies are nasty). And yes there is still more, Lena, the new found love of Clancy's live, gets taken/abuducted. Now Clancy does everything to get her back, now one will stand in his way. And if you know Clancy character, you don't want to be in his way when he gets angry, he might be of age but don't underestimate him... 

With the story of Into the Fire Peter Liney has again created a grippingly and hauntingly story, though some elements of fear were better embodied in The Detainee. For me, I think it was mainly owed to the directness of the first story where everything took place in a more or less confined area and you knew who was at play with the Wastelords etc. Into the Fire shows everything on a much bigger scope and for me was therefore a bit harder to connect with. But as I mentioned Peter Liney does create this possible near future vision that is just terrifying. 

As for the characters of Into the Fire most of them are recurrent ones that you met in The Detainee. "Big Guy" Clancy still leads the group, he is a natural born leader and though he has led a past of crime and other bad things, it seems that now he wants everything just to be ok and lead a normal life for as far as that is possible. He is redeeming himself, making sure he is the better man, but in doing or I should say trying to do, he does involve others which he hadn't planned. Clancy is just as strong and resilient as when you met him in the first book but now the stakes do become higher with what Lena has with her... and this adds another level of "don't mess with my friends" to Clancy's character. Jimmy is also one from the first book, he is the techy nerdy guy, give him a computer, doesn't need to work though (he will fix) and he will be able to do some cool stuff with it. Jimmy is also one of the younger ones and his tone adds some more lighter moments to the narration of the book, compared to the normally present dark current. Lena doesn't feature that strongly in the book as a person of speech, but is tightly involved in the plot of the book, which I won't spoil here. The newly introduced characters where that of Ray and Nora Jagger, more to be seen in the light of the bad guys of the book, I liked the highlighting of these characters and in particular that Ray was the half brother of Clancy and that they weren't on the best of terms. Nora Jagger is an Infinity agent and a deadly one at that. You can clearly see that there is more emphasis on the characters surrounding Clancy but the other supporting cast be it the folk that Clancy and his company encounter along the way or the bad guys of Infinity, they are all developed nicely with their own personalities to make them fit in the story. 

Dystopian fiction comes in many sizes, from taking place in the far future, in space or in our near future. In the world that Peter Liney envisions in The Detainee and Into the Fire, there isn't a mentioning of the day and age of where it takes place. However judging by the surrounding and technology that is used, it cannot be far off from our own time. This is just what get me all freaked out by such a story. Whenever I encounter a dystopian story I wonder how far we are off from it, the nearer the better for me. All the details that Peter Liney involves in his world building; the nefarious big brother organization, the locking away of people, the satellites that keep persons in check are all things that could possibly happen to us. Somehow now that I am typing up this review I am going through all the things in the book and upon reflection the destroyed town on the Mainland and the rioting and looting population AND lets not forget Infinity does add heaps of extra flavor to the dystopian setting of Into the Fire

What works well with trying to embody the dystopian effect is the first person narration of Clancy, it's by his eyes that you see everything start to unfold in the book, his experiences. And when bad things happen to him and his friends, it's by these emotions that the dystopian theme gets another level completely. Added to this comes the excellent writing style of Peter Liney, he will readily draw you into his story and show you no remorse when he plays on your own emotions. 

Into the Fire is a solid continuation of The Detainee. Peter Liney doesn't let his story falter at any given moment, instead he keeps his story unpredictable until the end. By taking the scene from the Island to the Mainland, Peter Liney has enough new material to use for a continuation but keeping the attention on his established character cast. Our hero and saviour of the people of the Island, "Big Guy" Clancy had thought that all his problems would be over once they reached the Mainland, but his thoughts are wrong. They just set foot in an even more dangerous place. Once again Peter Liney has written a great dystopian story that on more than one occasion will give you goosebumps, he involves society on a much larger scale in Into the Fire. As I said with The Detainee, it's captivated me and this is exactly what Peter Liney does again, his writing causes you to be right there next to Clancy in the story and it is impossible to not relate to all the hardship he has to go through. Peter Liney showed more of his world in Into the Fire and several events that happened did reveal a possible direction for the conclusion of The Detainee Trilogy. I am looking forward to see what will happen to Clancy, will he finally be free? Or is it impossible to fight the system?


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