DISCLAIMER: Since writing this review I have taken part in the writing process and have since become an editor of Arlington. This review was written when I first approached Winston about reviewing the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) before I took part in the editing process.
Warning: this review contains spoilers
Arlington is the novel of an anonymous author only known as Winston. It is a political thriller and science fiction novel, published by Collective of Misfits.
Arlington is about a domestic terrorist cell who wants to rid America of dirty politicians, the rich and powerful, and remove corruption in the government to bring about a ‘New World Order’. They hire a female assassin, only known as the ‘Arlington Anomaly’, to attack specific people on a list provided by ‘The Board’ of this terrorist cell.
That woman’s sister was murdered by a crooked police officer, and she realizes how corrupt the system is when the murder is covered up by the local sheriff and police department. She is sought out by ‘The Board’ to destroy the same kind of people who are corrupt and are responsible for allowing her sister’s death to happen.
The reader is given the opportunity to perceive the world through the terrorists’ eyes, something seldom seen in reality, when most events are exclusively presented to us through the media.
It is very refreshing to read about strong and independent female protagonists, especially in a novel with a lot of action, in which they seldom rely on male characters to help them.
The novel features real people and places in a fictional, almost alternate timeline of America. The events span from 2013 to 2016, in a non-chronological order. Arlington is very well structured; whenever there is a shift in time or point of view, the section begins by showing the reader the location, address, date, and time.
The back of the Advanced Reader Copy features a compendium of many public figures and celebrities who are featured in the novel, including Arianna Huffington, Donald Trump, and Mark Zuckerberg, along with many other names that readers a likely to recognize. Although they all feature in the book, there is a disclaimer in which the author expresses that any mention of these characters is for ‘entertainment and satire’ purposes only.
The mix of science fiction and real technology makes the ‘Arlington Anomaly’ seem almost believable; as if the events could actually happen. The female assassin named ‘Arlington’, in my opinion, is very violent antihero. The novel also contains elements that are similar to Blade Runner, in that peoples’ humanity are questioned, and that there is paranoia surrounding the protagonist as she struggles to figure out whether or not members of ‘The Board’ are really on the side of the people. Arlington is also positively remnant of Tom Clancy’s work, a style that’s been sorely missing from the industry since his passing in 2013.
I thought that it was very interesting that the fictional protagonist, Valery, and some of her friends, had all worked for the government at some point. An example of this is Valery, who works as program manager at DARPA and then becomes funded by ‘The Board’ to create her own weapons. Valery and the other characters seem to use their knowledge and abilities against the government they once served, creating new technology and weapons.
The novel contains graphic violence, leaving little to the imagination. Violent acts are committed by both sides; the terrorists and the government. We live in a world where many people have become desensitized to violence, terrorism, and government corruption; it has become the norm, because we chose to believe that it doesn’t affect us. In Arlington, the violence and change within America affects everyone, and the American citizens are forced to stop pretending that it’s not happening.
Arlington explores how one man’s terrorist can be another man’s freedom fighter. It shows that everyone wants to fight for what is right, but it is very often left unclear who is doing the right thing. The world is shades of grey, rather than black and white, and neither the domestic terrorist cell or the government is perfect.
In Arlington, Winston holds up a mirror to society. He shows the ugly aspects of human nature, as well as some of the good, which is represented by the protagonist, Valery.
The novel demonstrates the many levels of corruption; from everyday police officers and federal judges, even amongst the people trying to get rid of corruption. In Arlington, the reader can see how the characters’ progress; how becoming a part of this terrorist cell affects them and changes their beliefs. Everyone on ‘The Board’, including Valery, has their own reason for wanting a change in the government. They all seem to have good intentions, but as they get closer to their goal, power and greed lead some members of ‘The Board’ to become dishonest and corrupt. It becomes a vicious cycle. Like DC’s Batman, some characters begin with good intentions, but often end up becoming the villain when they see that what they’re doing isn’t benefiting anyone.
Arlington has an ambiguous and open ending, which I thought was very true to reality. Because, in the real world, we are never in possession of all the facts, and there is always a battle to be fought.
This is a very exciting book and is definitely something I think you should read! I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fast paced political thrillers, espionage action, and science fiction. Take some time out of your day to read Arlington, written by this generation’s answer to Tom Clancy.
In a world, full of corruption, who can you trust?
Winston has set up an Indiegogo campaign to fund the printing and distribution of Arlington.
Arlington will be made available for purchase in paperback and in various eBook formats on July 3rd, 2017.
This article first appeared in Previous Magazine.