Review: The Loop

Luka Kane – or inmate 9-70-981 – lives in The Loop, a prison controlled by artificial intelligence where escape is impossible. Every six months the inmates have a Delay: an appointment where they will undergo an experimental treatment. But these treatments do not benefit them. Luka and his fellow inmates (the Regulars) are simply test subjects for technological advancements which, if successful, will be marketed to the Alts – a community of superior cyber beings who exist and live on the outside, where all human imperfections have been eradicated. The Alts all have perfect eyesight, health, stamina, and aesthetics because of successful trials that occur in The Loop. This is how it is. This is Luka’s 736th day. 

He wakes up; eats breakfast; reads; exercises; eats lunch; reads and eats dinner all before the six-hour harvest begins. Every midnight, like clockwork, rain falls, and Luka sleeps before waking up to be subjected to everything all over again, until one day, there is a glitch. It is Luka’s sixteenth birthday, and the monotony of life alters: the government-issued rain stops falling and rumours of outside unrest start to spread.

The world outside of The Loop is a dystopian one taking place after a long-ago Third World War. Luka’s world has no countries but instead has numbered Regions, all falling under the control of one government and one Overseer. As One.

This is a story about artificial intelligence, technological advancements and chemical warfare clashing with human characteristics, habits and decisions. As Oliver writes, “this is what happens when you take compassion out of leadership”.

Oliver’s fictional world of The Loop is a far more technologically structured one than what we know, but the human feelings of loss, fear, excitement, love and most importantly hope, are all unique to the human experience and more than familiar to Luka, who drives the story with headstrong teenage spirit and gumption. Luka’s story serves as a warning, a lesson, and an insight into the dangers of advanced technologies whilst gripping readers with every sentence. The Loop is a modern-day The Matrix merged with a scattering of all the wonderful sci-fi dystopian tropes, and is perhaps all the more impactful in the year 2021 where pandemics are no longer unprecedented, and technology continues to advance as we speak…

Isabel Hassan