By: Walker Larson
Publisher: Swallow Hill Press
Publication Date: November 18, 2023
Reviewed by: Lily Andrews
A beautiful and captivating read, Hologram is the story of one man's quest to save his captured family from a fate worse than death.
Aaron, a Taurusian, living in one of the nation's outposts known as Fen, finds himself as a lone fugitive when the only family he has ever known is captured by the ruthless Vanguards. The Vanguards are Voturan shock troops that have an eerie ability to vanish into any surroundings. Using the military technology of developing holograms, the Voturan government sends fleets of nonexistent drones and divisions of ghost troopers mixed with their real forces. The hologram forces appear real and thus, their foes are not able to tell the difference. This gives the Voturan an upper hand against all their enemies.
Aaron has no destination set to go seek refuge, only the dogged determination to keep walking. Unfortunately, he is captured by the Voturans with his life taking an unforseen twist when he is promoted to the rank of a colonel once the power-hungry Voturan General, Druxa, discovers that Aaron has the remarkable and unique gift to tell the difference between the holograms and real soldiers. The general considers him a great weapon to help decipher the deceits of their enemies who have resorted to using holograms as well. With the acquired resolve to find his missing family members who had been taken as prisoners of war, and to save his life, Aaron decides to play the long game, by feigning loyalty to Druxa, while all along concealing his unrelenting desire for revenge and growing hatred for this wicked nation. A lot is at stake and time is of the essence...Aaron realizes that his first duty is staying alive and clawing through every day before carrying out his rescue plan.
The book's prose is organic and fresh, and the potent words the author uses evoke the complex relationships among characters and lucid landscapes. This searing story offers concise details - "A snarling blue wolf face was painted on the underside of its wings, and next to it were fixed several small missiles. A little glass dome protruded from its nose — a camera. Wafts of air from the propellers swept over the skiff and awakened the surrounding water into riffles and set the reeds to dancing, frothed in foam..." (pg. 5) - unfolding into unanticipated events that are utterly compelling and gripping.
A study of moral values and ethics gives an unexpected twist to this tale and the cinematic sequence the book builds up to, is not rushed. The author gives readers ample time to connect with the main character, and the secondary ones as well, and this makes them feel part of the story every step of the way. Aaron, the main protagonist, is a flawed character, and some of his decisions are questionable, but it is his character growth along the pages that is most satisfying.
Quill says: A tale that slowly and expertly builds up to a fantastic and satisfying end, Hologram by Walker Larson is a welcome treat for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts as they await the author's next adventure.
For more information on Hologram, please visit the author's website at: https://www.walkerlarsonwriting.com/