Book Review: Barriers


  • Title: Barriers
  • Author: Patrick A. Skelton
  • Series: Solar Flare Trilogy, #1
  • Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi
  • Publishing Date: January 1st, 2019
  • Publishing Co.: Indie
  • Length: 273 pages
  • Format: Kindle Unlimited, Paperback
  • Acquired: Given free digital copy in exchange for a review
  • Amazon LinkBarriers

In the near future, Barrier domes shield the planet’s wealthiest cities from catastrophic solar flares, but only the healthy elite are granted protection. Those who are unable to prove their ability to work are sent to live in the Sanctuaries — camps outside the Barrier domes where residents have little-to-no protection from flares. It’s brutal living there.

Nathan Gallagher is one of the lucky ones who lives inside a Barrier. But his luck runs out when his adopted son suffers a paralyzing accident. He’s taken from his parents and sent to the Sanctuaries where it’s only a matter of time before they kill him.

With only days until another flare is due to strike Earth’s Sanctuary cities, not only does his son’s life hang in the balance, but the fate of a quarter billion people.

First Chapter Challenge: 2%

It is October 2079, and Nathan’s son, Ian, is being pulled out of his home and sent to a Sanctuary due to his quadriplegia. Already, I am so intrigued! How could a government be in control of taking parents’ kids away and sending them somewhere else? How can the parents not have control? What has happened to our world, 60 years into the future?

I can’t wait to keep reading and find out!

Final Judgment: 5 Stars out of 5

60 years into the future, and the Earth has been tormented by the sun for the last 49 years. Something caused it to destabilize at that time, and since then has been bombarding the Earth with powerful solar flares, baking the land and killing off its inhabitants. Luckily, a scientist was able to create a Barrier system, which now protects certain cities from the sun’s harmful rays. Unfortunately, those Barriers come at a steep price, and do not cover even close to the entire world. In order to supposedly fund the Barriers and their upkeep, the government has strict regulations on who is able to be a Barrier resident, meaning that residents over the age of 12 have to be able to earn a meaningful income. Ian, a newly paralyzed 14-year-old kid, does not fall within those terms. As such, he is forcefully relocated to a Sanctuary (Barrier-less city akin to a slum). Nathan’s father has the key to Ian’s safety, a synaptic device that will hopefully grant Ian back the use of his limbs, but he dies before it is finished. At his funeral, Nathan is approached by a man who may have some answers for him… With a little detective work, can Nathan find what he is looking for before Ian’s clock runs out?

“One must first be the world’s savior before one can be its ruler,” (Loc 1589).

The entire plot of this novel is one giant twist. Each time I think that I uncovered a clue, something else happens to completely throw me off. Who are the good guys and who are the bad? The crazy twists and unpredictability of the plot keeps the story moving at a quick and exciting pace, and I actually finished this 273-page novel in about 4 straight hours. I simply had to know the ending! There were a plethora of cliff hangers and I never knew what was going to happen next, successfully convincing me to keep reading. I will say that it took some getting used to, because I was decently confused in the first 3rd of the book. I was unsure of what/who Nathan was fighting against, and who exactly held the power. But I will admit that this confusion actually enhanced the rest of the book!

With the multiple POVs strewn throughout the book (though the main POV is through Nathan’s eyes), I was able to see many different parts of the plot simultaneously. This helped propel the story, as I gained different insights into what was happening and not just Nathan’s plight. I was aboard a spaceship, on another planet, within a governmental top-secret council meeting, traveling between Barrier cities, and even got into the mind of Rankcon’s head guy. I was able to glimpse the actions and thoughts of both the good and bad characters, never knowing who’s side I should be on.

Automobiles and highways were gone for good, along with cell phones and FM radio. None were compatible with nonstop solar interference, or Rankcon’s agenda (Loc 100).

I really loved the futuristic Sci-fi technology that Patrick Skelton effortlessly embedded within this novel, especially as he interwove the lack of some technology that we currently take for granted on Earth (i.e. cell phones and cars). The juxtaposition of the technology served to create a futuristic, yet nostalgic feeling to the story. There were Syncsheets akin to a tablet with constant wireless access, LifeTracker chips embedded in citizen’s thumbs to manage their every move, energy force fields, cryotechnology, and much more. But what made these amazing technological advances so amazing was how believable they were. This is set 60 years into the future, and I could believe that we make these advances within that time. I could also believe that the sun destabilizes and throws our planet into peril. The entire story is so believable, so realistic, that I find myself dreading the future that is to come… I find myself believing that this is a prophecy, almost. There’s even time-travel, for Pete’s sake, and it is explained so rationally that I believe the possibility! I would recommend this novel even for non-sci-fi people, because Skelton does such a fantastic job rationalizing all of the unfamiliar technology and sci-fi-esque elements that one can simply lose oneself within the story and take all the sci-fi for granted.

The characters are all beautifully fleshed out with poignant backstories and emotions driving their actions. Nathan is–of course–the main protagonist, but with the multiple POVs, we readers are able to glean so much more from multiple characters. I love that everyone has a reason behind their actions, and as I gained a stronger understanding of each of the characters, I was able to somewhat predict their reactions. I love this kind of cohesiveness in a story.

“We value our safety so much that we’ll defend it at all costs. I want no part of the Barrier system any longer,” (Loc 2653).

I really don’t have anything negative to say about this novel, except above when I mentioned being confused in the beginning (which actually turned out to be a positive thing in the long run). The prose style is impeccable, the plotline and characters are moving and entertaining, my emotions were constantly stretched taut and in danger of breaking into desperation, and the dialogue realistic. Everything about this novel was great if not fantastic, and I cannot wait to read the sequel whenever it comes out!

Has anyone else read this novel? If so, let me know what you think of it in the comments below! If you haven’t read this, but are a fan of Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Fiction or simply Sci-fi, I highly recommend it!

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