PrintE-mail Written by Callum Shephard


The start of the dystopian Factory Trilogy, Gleam proves to be an ambitious title examining the human condition in a world of extremes, set between the dictatorially ordered Pyramid and the barren wasteland Discard beyond its walls. The survivor of a town massacred by the Pyramidders, Alan is one of those truly resentful of his home. When his constant questioning of authority results in the governing power assaulting his family, he strives for a life beyond its confines…

Embodying classic science fiction themes and tropes of the best kind, Gleam dresses up its ideas in extremely graphically grim content and takes the ideas of freedom or civilisation a step further than you would expect. From the very start, it’s made clear that this is not going to be a happy book with the gruesomely told bloodletting digging in with every detail and setting the tone for the barbaric sights of this world.

While each of the novel’s key locations cloak themselves in mysteries that are largely left unanswered, their thematic impact and relevance to the story’s themes is enough to keep any reader going. Rather than feeling akin to Lost where nothing is answered, it is far closer to Metro 2033 where exact answers are not what the tale is about, instead the meaning of certain ideas to the story.

There is only one key failing, which really hurts the story, which is a lack of descriptive words and broader choice of language on the part of the author. While the descriptions themselves of each location are extensive and thematic in the right places, there are not enough moments where the tale really takes the time to build an image in the reader’s head. For all the times the book might emphasise the nature of a landscape, far too often a lack of emotive language makes the book seem as if it’s stating the information rather than truly telling it to the reader.

Despite this failing, Gleam is a strong start to a very interesting world. Anyone looking for a science fiction tale of grim darkness should definitely pick this one up.

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