The Hunt for Pierre Jnr by David M Henley
Just finished reading the Hunt for Pierre Jnr which was an intelligent and thought provoking sci fi/political thriller based approximately 150 years into the future.
Global warming and the resulting famine plus other catastrophes known as the Second Dark Age have changed the world as we know it and the surviving population live under huge protective domes. This futuristic world is now also populated by psionics – people with psychic, telekinetic or telepathic abilities. I’m not 100% sure why these abilities have developed in certain people, maybe some sort of fallout or mutation following warfare – but, those with such abilities are generally feared by the majority. As a result they are collected, forcibly, as soon as their abilities manifest and placed on islands where their abilities cannot be used to the detriment of the rest of the population.
At the start of the story we are introduced to Peter Lazarus. Peter is a psis who has succeeded in not only escaping from captivity but remaining under the radar and evading re-capture. However, he now willingly gives himself over to the Services (armed military). The reason being to assist with the hunt for Pierre Jnr. Pierre is almost a folklore figure. He’s only 8 years old and his psychic powers are unmatched. Very few people have seen him but those that have encountered him are rarely left unharmed. He is greatly feared.
The world that Henley has created is a much more intense version of that which we are familiar with. The population are linked into the internet (known as the weave) on a virtually constant basis streaming information (using a symbiot that is attached). The Will of the people controls the democratic process with government’s being overthrown or placed in power based on popularity statistics. It’s an interesting concept that leads to political manoeuvering and corruption. At the start of the novel the current government has been in power for a number of years and peace has reigned. As the hunt for Pierre begins however events take a turn for the worse. The authorities, underestimating the threat and not really knowing what they’re going up against force a situation that results in massive destruction of one of the central regions and involves the deaths of over 2,000 people. The government is immediately replaced with a more aggressive one – the main character (or Prime) being Ryu – that has already proven it’s track record of hunting and capturing psis. And so the gauntlet is down.
The style of writing is very much dialogue led and is interesting in that along with regular dialogue there is the stream of conversation that comes through the syms and also the narration being held by psis using telepathy. We are introduced to a number of seemingly random people along the way which usually served to provide background to the world and people. The main psis characters are Peter Lazarus and Tamsin Grey who after a brief spell of working together end up on opposing sides. Their main foe is Ryu – the Prime. Not really such a nice character, assisted by his slightly creepy brother. What I liked here is that it’s very difficult to know just how reliable the characters are. There is always the threat that one or more of them have been ‘tampered’ with without their knowledge and are operating as somebody else’s puppet.
I won’t really go into plot. Yes, there’s a hunt for Pierre and there seems to be a race against two sides to pick up other psis in between times. War is brewing and it’s time for everyone to pick a team.
The main thrust of the story revolves around fear and prejudice. The psis are undoubtedly treated in a harsh manner because of their abilities – are they ever really given a chance to prove themselves? Not really. Is it likely that they will all wish to use their abilities to harm regular people? Who knows. Basically the fear and suspicion that most people have of the unknown is enough to force the situation and their fears are undoubtedly worked on! There are definitely different levels of puppetry going on here.
In terms of criticisms – I had very little to be honest. The only thing I would mention is that this is not a self contained novel and ends unresolved, a platform for the next in series.
Otherwise a thought provoking and fast paced read. I look forward to seeing where this goes next.
My thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review. The above is my own opinion.