Dystopian, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction

The NEAR by L.A Jones

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I was really little, say about 4 or 5 years old, I learned about the Sun and how important it is for our planet’s existence. And I remember someone telling me that one day the Sun would die out and we would probably, too. To my little brain, I thought it meant that it was going to happen right away. So I began to panic and cry and worry about my parents dying. While my parents eventually assured me that this would occur way in the distant future, they did impress upon me how vulnerable our planet and the environment is to human events. They told me that it is part of my duties as a human being to try to put minimal stress on the environment and do my part to conserve. I’ve been doing just that. But with growing reports on global warming and pollution, I always wonder how much longer the Earth will sustain us. This concern has been voiced in many books, and it is one of the reasons I read dystopian novels set in the distant future. It’s the reason that this book appealed to me in the first place.

In the year 2130, human civilization has come a long way in terms of technological advancement. However, there is still concern over space and waste disposal. And thus, the NEAR was created; it is a landfill that can be mined for its reusable contents. It may be stinky but it definitely is more efficient and beneficial. That is until workers discover a woman’s body deep in it. Detective Kirt Edo is called to the scene, and is both saddened by this unfortunate death and puzzled by the way in which the body was preserved. It becomes pretty obvious that this is murder, but what he didn’t expect was the hush-up that ensued. As he begins to do his own secret investigation, he makes a terrifying link between the dead woman and his own family. As he hunts for more answers, only one thing remains sure: more will die. What Edo does next will either save everyone he loves, or lead to the death of countless people.

This story has great bones and a very intriguing plot. I only wish it had been executed better. While the author did a great job describing technical details, the filler material that usually allows for smooth transitions from one event to another was lacking throughout the story, making it feel very choppy. It’s great to have a fast pace and be action-packed but there needs to be good transitioning for the story to work. Detective Edo is a really great character and I wish there had been more development in that area, especially in terms of the way he communicates and interacts with other characters. In fact, all of the dialogue in the novel was very weird and unrealistic, so it took away from the story. Overall, the story has great potential but the writing requires polishing, and there needs to be better transitions.

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