Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Living your days out in a gigantic self-contained shopping mall is the dream of many a child, and maybe many a shopaholic. Homeland brings this fantasy to a stark, bleak reality.
Tracy Briggs wakes up in a hospital room, his memory full of holes. He recovers surprisingly quickly, and is escorted to his home – a small box of a room on the third floor of the mall.
Briggs is horrified to earn that the mall’s Citizens are never allowed to leave, and the one view to the outside is rather static and contrived. Every tiny room of the mall is under the never-sleeping eye of the video cameras and watched by armies of Citizens. The inhabitants are rather amusing as they are constantly yelling, “I am not a terrorist!” — until you realize it is a desperate attempt to convince Homeland they deserve to remain alive.
Homeland is the trigger-happy mall security program. Any question or statement that is slightly suspect draws the ready-fire of Homeland’s androids. Any small infraction of the law has a Citizen terminated. Even romantic encounters are monitored, with anything but the Homeland-approved missionary position being an aberration.
Tiny blind spots to the security cameras provide the only avenue of hope for those who are brave enough to try to beat the system. As Briggs tries to understand his surroundings, he is surrounded with the types of characters you don’t want next to you on the bus, much less stuck in the same mall with you for what may be your entire life.
Amos makes this perverse world come alive, with such a biting reality that the first portion of the novel in its setting was at a danger of becoming dark and depressing if it wasn’t for the author’s ability to inject humor into his writing and his characters. As the character Briggs battles with his spotty memory, commercial brainwashing, a stalker, a love interest and an annoying uber-dork, the reader is pulled along with the fast action and an ending you couldn’t possibly see coming.
A romp through the ugliness of humanity, Homeland brings to mind how much we should appreciate our freedoms. Amos takes a jab at the state of current world politics, which can be a little jarring, but we can accept a few bumps on such a fun ride.
Review by Virginia O’Dine.
Originally in Neo-opsis Issue 12.