The Future Is Harsh and Scary, but the Kids Give Us Hope


For the first half of Jake Lingwall’s action-packed, young-adult novel, Kari Tahe spends a considerable amount of her waking hours in virtual simulation, testing her drones in a wide range of combat scenarios. This is the future, when the lines between games and reality are blurred.

As the story advances — forgive the vulgarity to which the author doesn’t succumb — the shit gets real.

In Freelancer, the future allows the brilliance of youth to spread its wings — or, at least, its drones and other technologically advanced apparati — and fly.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Kari is a next-generation superhero, as noble in her intentions as Wonder Woman and as unafraid. She isn’t political. She passes no judgment on the civil war. She is an agent of individualism, intent as much on protecting her friend as the Union. She likes being a “freelancer,” a genius who solves problems for unnamed private clients without passing judgment on their intentions and designs. She doesn’t want her country to go to war, but her allegiance is to the micro — her classmate David and his family — rather than the macro, which translates to the impersonal tyranny of her time.

Her government values her for her skill and demands access to it. If she doesn’t provide it, she and anyone with whom she is associated are deemed expendable.

The future is a dirty game.

Mostly, it makes sense, but I’m not much of a judge. At the very least, it makes Lingwall’s storytelling plausible. He knows what he’s writing about. It’s a leap of faith for me. I trust him. He draws me into his web of intrigue and takes me, through Kari and David and the families they imperil, along for the ride.

The future isn’t promiscuous, at least not in the context of sex. David loves Kari, I suspect. Kari isn’t sure. It’s a puppy love, at best, the kind that might grow between Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in an old movie. Kari risks everything for David not because she agrees with his cause but because she can’t stand to see people, those at their school and those in the government, pick on him.

Impulsive? Kari? You haven’t seen impulsive until you stumble across her tale, and I hope you will.

This novel isn’t my cup of tea. In fact, while reading it, I consumed quite a bit of coffee. The author is himself a programmer, a writer of code by day and sci-fi novelist by night. He can envision the future. My writing is limited, in three novels on the market and two more to come, to the present and past. My characters are flawed and morally confused. Lingwall’s are ennobled by their impersonal, stifling time.

For what it’s worth, I hope the future, as defined by Jake Lingwall in his first novel, is the way he imagines. Once we hand it down, thoroughly corrupted, to the Kari Tahes and the David Pratts, the world has a chance to straighten itself out. Good has a chance. Lingwall’s is an optimistic view.


(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

              Recommend this to your teens. They will be inspired. It will give them hope for the future.


              Read Crazy of Natural Causes yourself. It will amuse you. It might shock you a little. I expect your teens will like it, but it might not please you that they do.



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