London, the near future. Energy wars are flaring across the globe – oil prices have gone crazy, regular power cuts are a daily occurrence. The cruel Kossak soldiers prowl the streets, keeping the Outsiders – the poor, the disenfranchised – in check.
Hunter is a Citizen: one of the privileged of society, but with his passion for free running and his rebel friend Leo he cannot help but be fascinated by the Outsiders. So when he meets Outsider Uma, he is quickly drawn into their world – and into an electrifying and dangerous race to protect everything they hold dear…
Take several elements you wouldn’t normally see all together, Parkour, The Matrix, controlling military presence, young love, global crisis, and you have Momentum by Saci Lloyd. The two standouts for me, because there are plenty of stories with several of the aforementioned themes, are the Parkour and The Matrix factors.
We’re introduced to the Parkour theme straight off, and just like the sport itself, the pace of the story is always running, jumping from scene to scene, fluidly carrying you forth before you get a chance to think. I love how this sport has been included, not only to carry the story forth, but adding to the atmosphere of urgency when coupled with the violence in the story.
The Matrix element is on a small scale, but intertwined with everything these people do. In this case it’s not the same as The Matrix (spoiler alert if you’re yet to watch The Matrix or don’t know about it...) in the sense they’re all in a program, rather their participation in the program is voluntary and they’re all hooked up to The Family (I’ll take the opportunity here to recommend reading the author’s note when it comes to symbol meaning, you should be able to find this before the story begins), using it to enhance and connect with each other. It’s basically the Internet gone more wireless and expanded. I was wary at first, I’m over the use of Matrix styles in movies and I’m even warier of coming across it in books, but even though it’s a motivating subject it’s not overdone and only slightly goes into the hard science fiction direction (more like skims it).
Momentum is a great example of fast paced, present tense writing. I didn’t spot one slip up into past tense and the technique of shorter, to the point sentences, was used really well. There wasn’t any flowery description, delving deeply into emotions, or unnecessary overindulgence of personal torment, yet I think you get a very clear picture of what is going on with the scene as well as with what the characters are feeling.
The only real problems I had with the story came further towards the end. There were certain factors that did not seem believable to me. Granted one of them becomes far more explained in the end, but when you’re reading in the moment, and if that point of explanation isn’t for another 20-30 pages, you’re left with that question of doubt at the back of your mind the whole way. I think this can distract quite a lot when reading. The other aspect is the love story, it was great because it doesn’t wash over the main story or flood the story with soppiness, but towards the end something happens that I found hard to take. It made me scoff and roll my eyes somewhat. It may be something that came to attention as there really isn’t much to the romance until that moment.
For what it is, Momentum is a refreshing dystopian with the global oil crisis at the forefront, sending a very clear message of embracing change and adaptation. Yet this may be one of those stories, thanks to the Parkour and Matrix, where the tale is more of an acquired taste.