The Blurb on Other People’s Words – HIGH-OPP

June 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

High-Opp – by Frank Herbert

I actually had the opportunity to proofread this novel, an experience I wasn’t about to miss. I mean how often to you get the chance to give feedback on a work by a master (I only wish he were still around to receive it himself)? I loved Dune, and considering that dystopian fiction is one of my favourite genres, I was fairly certain I would enjoy this book.

It is surprising and fantastic when a dystopian novel written decades ago seems to be in tune with what is currently happening in the world, be it the voyeuristic and controlling government in “1984”, or the entertainment-drugged masses, bred to their social status in “Brave New World”. “High-Opp” offers this kind of precognitive insight, a hint of “Future Shock”-esque vision from Mr. Herbert.

As with the typical format for a dystopian novel, the story begins with an attempt at a utopia gone wrong. What was originally intended to be the ultimate of democratic processes where everyone has equal access to resources so that no one is left wanting and no voice is ignored, has become corrupted. The survey voting system that was supposed to allow everyone an equal say in government has been secretly usurped and is being manipulated by a handful of now high ranking officials or “High-Opps”, the majority of which are now in their current position because of the family they were born into, just like royalty. There are exceptions, like one official who was clever, ambitious and resourceful enough to rise from the bottom ranks to the top, Daniel Movius, and the story begins with his downfall, once an abuser of the corrupt system, and now a victim of it.

Not surprising, feeling slighted and vengeful, he is willing to join the resistance, the “Seps ” and the book follows his struggles from there: his alliances, his manoeuvring and his attempts to use the way the system works to counter his antagonists.

I really enjoyed this book, with a great deal of detail woven into the narrative, delightfully flawed characters – the protagonist is not always all that likable, enhancing the sense of realism in the book – and plenty of action and intrigue surrounding the politics and the posturing. If I had only one complaint, it was that I found the very ending of the book a little unrealistic and over-the-top. Other than that, the story was an entertaining and enlightening read.

I’d like to give this a 4.5, but with the limitations of a 5 star rating system, I’d have to say I’m more inclined to give it a 5 than a 4. I’d recommend it to anyone who would appreciate a stimulating dystopian tale that mirrors many current-day events.

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