Lucy Leitner’s long-awaited second book following 2012’s Working Stiffs, a comedy-horror mash-up of a George A. Romero zombie flick meets Office Space, shares a lot in common with her debut novel, in that Outrage: Level 10 is another gory, funny, fast-paced social commentary, packed full of creativity.
Before the Revolution, Alex Malone was a world-famous hockey player. Now he is a cop with zero authority and even less respect, living in a world where justice is decided by the people. It is a world where Alex has no place anymore and the brain injuries he suffered during his glory days are causing so much misery that he is seriously considering ending it all.
After undergoing an experimental new treatment, Alex finds his headaches disappear overnight. Replacing them are unsettling visions that aren’t his own, and which begin to lead him toward a conspiracy so large that the truth of this bold new society may be its undoing.
The first thing that struck me was how incredible the world-building in Outrage: Level 10 is. It is such a brilliantly constructed world, with endless little details that really help to create a feel and a vivid picture when reading this novel. You can see why there has been such a large gap between Leitner’s first and second book if this is the level of thought that goes into what she is writing. It can sometimes be a victim of its own success in this regard, however, as there is so much stuff that the author has created that I confess to getting a little lost a few times.
Released by Necro Publications, legendary in indie horror for unleashing Edward Lee on an unsuspecting world, this particular publisher comes with perhaps a certain expected level of violence and depravity and Outrage: Level 10 does deliver on this. The dystopian future setting is ripe for outlandish, blood-drenched mayhem and Leitner makes the most of this without taking things too far and letting the action overshadow the story she wants to tell. Gorehounds should leave relatively satisfied but if you’re not an extreme horror fan, fear not, as Outrage: Level 10 doesn’t take things quite that far.
It is an effective horror book, and its satire, aimed squarely at things like social media, cancel culture and law enforcement, is as biting as it is funny. While I thought the satire worked very well, it did outstay its welcome on a few occasions, dragging the pacing down somewhat with one too many examples of the trap this society has fallen into by believing they hold all the power when it is, as it always was, a select few that control things behind the scenes. It’s an interesting and timely message, but perhaps a little too on-the-nose on occasion.
Outrage: Level 10 is a truly unique novel, mixing horror, satire and sci-fi into a vividly realized dystopian setting. Reading it is both an exciting and immersive experience and any horror fan looking for something truly different need look no further.
Outrage: Level 10 by Lucy Leitner
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Outrage: Level 10 is an antihero’s journey through the inner workings of a violent, near-future dystopia.
DescriptionAlex Malone is brain damaged from a career as a legendary goon in the outlawed sport of hockey. Now he’s a cop because that’s the only job that’ll take him. His presence is enough to raise a citizen’s outrage level, putting him at constant risk of being banished — or worse, sent to the mysterious Maze. His headaches bring the type of pain that makes plunging off one of Pittsburgh’s bridges a viable option. The bouts of unfettered rage interfere with his ability to complete even the simplest task of rounding up the centenarians with the dying brains and bionic bodies who terrorize other citizens. Since The People assumed control of the Republic of America, death before 130 has become a thing of the pre-Revolutionary past. Cancer, heart disease, spinal cord injury — all eradicated thanks to tax dollars funding medical research instead of wars and unjust justice. If only they could figure out the brain… So an experimental treatment sounds good to Malone. It feels good, too. The blackouts that would end with bleeding knuckles and a citizen unconscious on a sidewalk are replaced by vivid memories. The only problem is that the memories aren’t his. They’re filled with torture and more violence than even the undefeated champion of ice boxing could imagine. With a sense of purpose not felt since his days as hockey’s premier fighter, Malone is determined to find out what’s going on in his head, even if it makes him a target of the outraged mob and the powerful sadists that manipulate it, and leads him to horrifying truths that should have remained lies. Outrage: Level 10 is an antihero’s journey through the inner workings of a violent, near-future dystopia.
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