June 23rd, 2022 by Jane Turner
This review of Pulse by B.A. Bellec comes via a Blog Tour organised by Escapist Tours. Pulse was self-published on 1 December 2021. I received a free copy of the ebook.
Pulse is a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centred 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.
‘…dystopian sci-fi horror thriller…”? Right up my alley, I thought. But Pulse is and isn’t what I expected.
First, let’s hit the bad stuff.
But there is good stuff. And it is pretty cool.
The premise is good. The story, itself, is interesting. In Bellec’s 2040, just ten companies run and own everything. Everything. And the worst is Pulse; a firm with no qualms about anything and no goal except making money. Pulse’s food product has almost no nutritional value and will end up killing people. Pulse is a major polluter, is doing unlicensed genetic tinkering, and monitors everyone using their ubiquitous PulseBand wrist device. They’ve bought Congress and the Presidency, meaning no repercussions and the country bends over for them. Pulse is THE Bad Guy of bad guys.
But there’s hope in a small and dedicated band of rebels, Anti-P, and a couple of (twins/clones) ‘Men in Black’, along with the odd survivor of said genetic tinkering now adult and a tad confused… (Though I’m still a little unsure of which of two characters this actually is.)
The creature is good – even though the how/why/where needs expansion.
The horror aspects are very well done; lots of jumping out, suspense, gore and some great settings – everything a good horror needs!
The pace is excellent and you just want to find out. Short chapters (though they do jump around in both timeline and character viewpoint) compel you to read further.
I also actually really liked the ‘script’ format for the dialogue; I think it works well.
Pulse gives us a near-future that is unsettlingly possible, and terrifying.
Editor-me just wanted to dig in with a big red pen. Copywriter-me wanted to re-write paragraphs at a time. But, if you can look past it’s flaws, Pulse is a horror-filled thrill ride that will leave you listening for strange clicks in the dark…
Bryan “B.A.” Bellec’s debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award for Young Adult Book of the Year. Someone’s Story is a coming-of-age novel about teen mental health. One of the aspects that makes Bellec’s projects unique is he includes musicians in his novels and then he actually produces the songs as his book goes through the editing stages. You can find that music on his YouTube channel. His second novel, Pulse, was released in 2021 and has been receiving strong reviews. That novel is a genre flip with dark dystopian sci-fi horror peppering the pages. Pulse is the start of a new fictional universe Bellec will write in for years to come!
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