Cover image for The loop
The loop

1st ed.
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 22 cm.
Luka Kane has spent 736 days wrongfully imprisoned inside the Loop awaiting his execution. Each day is the same. Each day is torturous. But things are starting to change. Whispers of war are circulating. Strange things are happening to the prisoners. And the warden delivers a message: Luka, you have to get out ... Now Luka must decide whether breaking out of the Loop is his only way to survive, especially if there's any chance of saving the ones he loves. But the population on the outside may be far more terrifying than anything he could have imaged. And in order to save his family, he'll have to discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world. --


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"A script-ready story with blockbuster potential." -- Kirkus (Starred Review)Life inside The Loop--the futuristic death row for teens under eighteen--is one long repetitive purgatory. But when news of the encroaching chaos in the outside world reaches the inmates and disorder begins to strike, the prison becomes the least of their worries. Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and The Maze Runner .It's Luka Kane's sixteenth birthday and he's been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into "Delays", scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world.But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it's not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? In a thrilling shift, he must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.

Author Notes

Benjamin Oliver grew up in Scotland and began writing long before he could spell. He attended the University of Stirling where he studied English but spent most of his time trying to write a novel. Benjamin's first short story was published when he was eighteen, and since then he's been published in over a dozen literary magazines and anthologies. Fueled by astounding amounts of coffee, Benjamin completed The Loop -- his first full-length YA manuscript -- in Edinburgh, where he currently lives and teaches English at secondary school.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Incredibly well written and briskly paced, this book will engage and enthrall even the most reluctant of readers with sophisticated dystopian world-building and events. On his 16th birthday, Luka Kane celebrates, (if it can be called that), inside the Loop, a prison where everyone serves a death sentence regardless of their age or background. Sentences can be postponed if an inmate agrees to subject themselves to scientific experimentation that is ostensibly benefiting those on the outside. Soon, however, rumors of a war outside the prison begin circulating among the inmates. Inexplicably, the government turns the rain off, and in a somewhat peculiar twist, the guards inside the prison vanish. Even more disturbing are the rumors of a virus ravaging the outside population, one that turns normal people into violent killers. As he tries to escape the Loop, Luka is faced with very real dangers within and outside the walls. This gripping tale moves right along, pulling readers into the world of the Loop. Luka is a realistic teenager being pushed to the edge; the faint-hearted may find themselves wishing for an escape, but will keep turning pages. VERDICT With plenty of appeal for fans of a good dystopian tale, this book won't spend much time on the shelf.--Wayne R. Cherry Jr., St. Pius X High School, Houston

Publisher's Weekly Review

After spending two years imprisoned in the Loop, Luka Kane, 16, is desperate for any change of routine or sign of hope. Though he can stay his execution by opting to participate in dangerous experiments that benefit the elite, he fully expects to die in prison, another victim of his dystopian society, which favors the privileged, technology-enhanced Alts (the Altered) over the so-called Regulars. Everything changes after Luka and his fellow convicts are subjected to a mysterious treatment that kills some and drives others mad. The survivors must now somehow escape the Loop, but outside, the weather spirals out of control, and people, now feral, slaughter one another. To survive, Luka and his dwindling band of allies must evade capture and confront those behind the recent happenings. In this harrowing debut, Oliver deftly conjures an unsettling surveillance state hallmarked by class warfare and a nightmarish penal system that harvests its victims' energy as punishment. Events take on an ambiguous tone as the story progresses, making it difficult to tell what is real, but an emphasis on the importance of human connection strengthens this cinematic series opener. Ages 14--up. Agent: Chloe Seager, Madeleine Milburn Literary. (Apr.)

Kirkus Review

As the government harvests young people for energy and experimentation, one group of teens fights to reclaim their bodies--and tries not to lose their minds in the process. In a futuristic, dystopian society run by an Overseer reminiscent of President Donald Trump (or perhaps Boris Johnson since the debut author is Scottish), there are the poor, less privileged Regulars and the cyborg Altereds, whose money buys them status and a better, bioengineered body. To sustain the Alts' high-tech lifestyle and bodies, the government harvests energy from and experiments on inmates in the death row prison, the Loop. Inmate Luka Kane, 16, a Regular who was imprisoned for an undisclosed crime, narrates this taut, SF thriller and trilogy opener. Following thorough descriptions of society's ideologies and Luka's intense situation is nonstop action. Rumors of an uprising and the unexplained shutdown of Happy, the World Government's operating system, give Luka and fellow inmates--all of whom have features their society deems imperfect--the chance to break out. In an even more hostile environment on the outside, they fight for independence amid violence, murder, and unexpected twists and turns. Readers must figure out ever changing government controls along with Luka; one of these open-ended surprises sets the scene for the next volume. Luka has dark skin, and the cast is ethnically diverse; Alts are white. A script-ready story with blockbuster potential. (Dystopian. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Luka Kane, 16, lives in a death-row prison called the Loop, where inmates either wait to die or earn delays to their executions by becoming test subjects for technologies not yet ready for society's wealthy, cybernetically enhanced "Alts." Luka has spent the last 736 days in near isolation, watching his per diem of four minutes of memory playback and running the length of his small walled-in yard until he exhausts himself. Luka's opportunity to escape comes when something catastrophic happens outside the Loop. What he and his fellow inmates (at least, those who survive the initial bloodshed of their release) find when they emerge is a violent and terrifying mystery. Whispers of an uprising had made their way into the Loop, but it's unclear what the sides are in this new war--and what roles the Loop's former prisoners will play in it. Oliver's debut presents a terrifying futurescape at the heart-stopping intersection of The Matrix and The Maze Runner, kicking off a trilogy sure to prove dystopian sci-fi still has more to offer.