“Book Review: APEX”
Reviewed by Madeline Barbush
A dark-humored reality that shifts its oppressive controls on us
Apex by Tyler Michael fulfills the best parts of both the Action and Conspiracy Thriller genres. We are presented with three characters who quickly realize they are being hunted in the wild, literally, by an organization that caters to the rich and powerful.
The story’s premise exposes readers to themes like the classic good-versus-evil, and even a bit more specifically: the extravagance behind wealth and the power that money holds. Apex may shy away from diving too deep into interpretations like these, but the novel remains an exciting and fast-paced read nonetheless.
In the novel, a powerful and discreet organization, APEX, creates experiences for noteworthy clients where the latter can essentially pay millions to test their ability to hunt and kill another human and come away from it unscathed.
In this particular expedition, Chris, Kate, and Kevin are the prey and they have no idea they are being hunted. The irony of their predicament is not lost on us: Kate and Kevin innocently go on an excursion to learn survival skills from the more experienced Chris, and then later on, they must actually fight for their lives in a very real life or death situation.
It is exciting to see which of them will stand up to the test, but on the same note it is bewildering why they would be chosen by APEX to be the prey of their clients (Mr. Blue, Mr. Black, and Mr. White) in the first place. While the story unfolds, we’re meant to see the exposure of a dystopian world designed through and for economic inequality, injustice, and abuse of power.
We are shown hints of evil in the clientele and company of APEX, but I’m often left feeling like this “Evil” side isn’t quite ruthless enough, in the same way that the “Good” side is not driven or heroic enough to represent an inspiring uprising. If this disconnection between the extremes were better highlighted—like if our symbol for the oppressed weren’t young, educated university students and if local businessmen hadn’t been the stand-in for the all-powerful oppressor—this story could have exceeded my expectations and been a compelling narrative as well as a politically active one.
Apex may fall short for me in this way, but I cannot help but delight in its cinematic quality. Similar to the director of a strong film, Michael throws us into the action and conflict from the very beginning. Every moment has a meaning and every second counts for Kate, Chris, and Kevin. It’s what we need out of this forthcoming plotline.
The three are forced to wear a watch that eerily counts down the hours, minutes, and seconds, that they have until they must face their doom… or prove they are worthy of surviving. Adding to this discomfort is the contrasting experiences of the hunters (clients of APEX) versus prey (Kate, Chris and Kevin). The power struggle is constantly shifting and even playing tricks on us as the reader. The expedition starts off as an entertaining video game for the hunters, but the controls begin to go into the wrong hands. The stakes are always rising, and the tension is intensified with this race-against-the-clock pacing.
Apex has a dark humor that is subtle and ever-present. It reminds us that anything goes, whether we recognize it or not. We like to deny the reality of an ugly truth or system until it begins to affect us. We believe that our good morals and behavior is the general standard for the rest of the world, and then we are faced with our own ignorance and privilege when we learn of the struggles or injustice placed upon another person or group. Sure, there are rules to this world, but there will always be those who rewrite them for their own gain, for better or worse. And that’s what makes Apex such a recommendable thriller for me—these ideas, these approaches, and these fast-paced thrills.
Paperback: 248 pages
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