Gary Ballard's Reviews > The Ultimate Choice

The Ultimate Choice by Lisa C. Hinsley
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Apr 10, 12

Read from March 28 to 30, 2012

Since I enjoyed Hinsley's horror novel, Coombe's Wood, I had confidence in her abilities with a science-fiction tale like The Ultimate Choice. The subject matter sounded weighty but intriguing. In a world so overpopulated that unlicensed sex is outlawed and an unsanctioned pregnancy is punishable by death, would a mother make the ultimate sacrifice on a live television spectacle? Would she give up her life, allowing her organs to be donated to willing recipients chosen by the audience?

Unfortunately, the author's writing did not live up to the quality of her concept. The television show conceit is quickly dispensed with, and we are treated on a tour of this dystopian future courtesy of one truly annoying main character. I had sympathy for Cassie's situation, however, her internal monologue and general wishy-washiness really became grating after a few chapters. In fact, every single character in the piece either felt one-dimensional or grated the nerves, particularly the Dan character. While reading the novel, I kept being reminded of the mediocre, somewhat surreal science-fiction movies and television shows of the '70's, like the Logan's Run TV show (not the movie). Most of the situations in the book felt forced, the author's hand being omnipresent rather than subtly moving the story along organically. By the time Cassie finds the rebel group and is forced to go along with them to a government lab to destroy a virus, my suspension of disbelief was long gone, but the piece descended further into illogical events when those same rebels are sent to another country to steal a virus with the British government being given plausible deniability by their rogue nature. The world itself, though intriguing in conception, did not make sense in execution.

All told, the book is well-written, with few editing errors and it is well-paced. The flaws I mention above didn't stop me from completing the read, but they did hamper my enjoyment. Lisa Hensley can write, and I applaud her for not wimping out on the ending. She leaves much to ponder about the choices she presents to the readers. I only wish they had been presented more artfully.
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