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Razorcake Magazine:

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Verbicide Magazine:

Just like cooking, writing is not only about having the right ingredients — it's also about putting them together successfully and creating a final product that's enjoyable and in which none of the elements used overpower the others. Shahab and Shahram Zargari's Prison Break 2438 accomplishes that elusive balance, a feat made more impressive by the fact that the novel is the duo's first book. A post-apocalyptic action drama with sci-fi slant, Prison Break 2438 mixes equal parts of violence, tension, and intrigue with double-agents, explosions, and gunplay. The authors sprinkle in a dash of romance and serve it all on an underlying message of social equality.

The story takes place in the 2400s. The United States of America is no more. War, xenophobia, religious differences and natural disasters have all contributed to splitting the nation into two separate areas known as Kali and Middlechris. Profit Hank Smith is the ruthless head of state of Middlechris, and his discourse is full of racial intolerance and hardcore religious values. On the other hand, Kali is a place where everyone is of mixed race, and despite the gangs and occasional violence, citizens try their best to live in peace while dreaming of a better future. When Juan Olofson, a Che Guevara-like figure who's seen as hero in Kali, is captured and taken to a prison in Middlechris, friend and bookstore owner Franco finds himself joining the Tiger's Paw Army in order to rescue Olofson. The subsequent mission is bloody and vicious, but everyone involved knows that the future of Kali hangs in the balance.

Gore, sex, loyalty, heroism, and plenty of death make Prison Break 2438 an entertaining read. Small details like a new language or the narration of a hallucinogenic drug experience (with a tip of the hat to writers and drug icons like Timothy Leary and Hunter S. Thompson) make it obvious that the Zargaris wanted to add depth to the story they tell.

That which the authors decided to include in the narrative is as important as the things they left out. Although this is a post-apocalyptic story, there are no cyborgs, mutants, zombies, or any of the other clichés that have turned this type of fiction into something formulaic and repetitive. That being said, there are a few elements that were excluded that would have made the story even better. For example, skin tone distinguishing technology is mentioned, but the authors never fully explain how it works or delve into the impact it has on society.

By steering clear of literary ambitions, using a very straightforward prose, and not bogging down the narrative with too much romance, the nonstop action and ever-changing points of view in the book take center stage and give it a cinematic quality. In fact, the best way to describe Prison Break 2438 is to call it a race-conscious hybrid between the Escape from New York and the Mad Max trilogy. Although the fighting, torturing, backstabbing, and heroic acts of the characters are the book's main attractions, what ultimately makes Prison Break 2438 a recommendable read is the way it fuses very real historical problems with an imagined future. Considering the state of race relations today, it's not too hard to think there is a veiled warning here. Thankfully, if there is a message, it's never delivered in pretentiously didactic way, so the only way to figure it out is to pick up a copy and read it.



BOOKS AND BEYOND.NET:

Shahab & Sharam Zargari's first novel is a pretty good thriller. Their action scenes are fast paced and thrilling. I read these scenes rapidly, eager to find out who would live and who would not.

More accurately, I would say this book was a post-apocalyptic,politically charged, thriller.

When one thinks of post-apocalyptic stories a lot of things come to mind.  

However, there are no zombies, mutants, killer virus's, etc. in this story. 

It is the United States of the future that has been ravaged by time, Mother Nature finally getting fed up with our abuse, wars, and ideology. 

There is no government as we know it to be now, there are no laws as we know them to be now. It has all broken down over time and factions have emerged. Each one fighting for what they believe is right. Of course, not all have the best of intentions for the people who have managed to survive.

The United States now consists of  2 sections known as Middlechris & Kali.

Profit Hank Smith, of Middlechris, rules with God by his side. He twists God's words and their meaning as a way to control.

The book said it best; "Government promoted racial hostility as a means of control and consumerism". 

Profit Smith is against ANYONE who has any kind of darkness to their skin or is from a certain area(Kali and mixed race Middlians namely). 

I loved how the book took issues of past and present and molded them to fit the future. It is a stark look at what could very well be. 

It's not just the plot that made this an interesting read. The Zargari brothers writing style meshed well together. I am highly impressed that they were able to be so in sync. There were a few times I wondered which one wrote what scene or what character lines, etc. However, I did not note any drastic changes from page to page that made it obvious it was by a different author.

We are drawn into the the fight for freedom and survival from page one. It is obvious this new world is not a friendly nor easy one to survive in. 

A simple bookstore owner, Franco Leon, finds out his old and dear friend, Juan Olofson-the leader of a rebel force known as "Tigers Paw Army"- has been captured and imprisoned by Profit Smith at the "Christ's Voice Prison". 

"Christ's Voice Prison" is well known for executing men and women of all ages after lengthy "interrogation" sessions.

They are celebrating their victory at having captured one of the most prolific characters of their time, Juan Olofson. 

Profit Smith & the Prisons Warden, General Erikson, should of known Tiger's Paw would not roll over and cat nap while their founder and leader was being held captive and tortured without mercy.

While this specific future may not happen, it is not unrealistic to imagine, something much like it may still go down. Putting all politics of the story line aside, it is a good story that is well crafted and engaging. Also, do not allow the political tones to scare you away. They are NOT overwhelming and one does not feel as if they are reading a Clancy novel. 

The characters were well thought out and each one added to the story, whether their time with us was brief or lasted until the end, each one delivered and the story would of been lost without a few certain characters. They leave an lasting impression on you. 

The descriptions of the United States of the future were quite colorful and imaginative, without being unrealistic. I pictured it a lot like what a war torn country would be like now.

My only complaint was that a few of the main supporting characters were not developed enough. I wanted to know more of their stories & how they came to be. I also wondered if at times there were too many minor side players. I did not care for all of the characters, yet I understood they were there to develop the story line. 

To sum it all up, I would definitely recommend this story. It will be perfect for the person who loves a post-apocalyptic story where the "end" was brought on by nature, war, governmental corruption, with dashes of a political thriller, action, and a smidgen of love (I do mean a smidgen) in it. If you dig breaking out of prison, overthrowing the corrupt government, stories this is also up your alley!

Let me not forget the artist that contributed so much to the book. Brian Ewing.  The cover work was done by Brian. He rocks.