Skip to main content

The pace is breakneck and heart-pounding. Your skin will crawl at some of the imagery regarding the creatures, you will sweat with the built-up tension, and you will be completely unable to extricate yourself from the compulsive narrative.

 

But Pulse is about so much more than mere carnage and fright because of the prospect of scary monsters ripping the characters apart. It is some of the humans who are the real monsters of the book. This is a novel about unchecked corporate greed, rampant, unrestrained capitalism, dirty politics, mayhem, and murder. 

pulsePulse (Book One in the ‘Pulse‘ series), by B.A. Bellec, was a book I wanted to read so badly that I squeezed it into my month (April 2022) dedicated to reading Indie grimdark fantasy “masters”.

No, this book is not grimdark fantasy – instead it is a dystopian sci-fi horror thriller. The reason I wanted to read this book so badly is that, as I seem to be becoming more and more of a mood reader, a lot of current world events had me craving to read something that – based on the blurb – would encapsulate a lot of the issues in the world we are grappling with, in the digestible, non-real format of engaging fiction. Plus, I am beginning to be able to appreciate horror books again, so Pulse seemed the ideal read.

The book comes with a TON of accolades, among them: B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, Wishing Shelf Adult Fiction Finalist, Literary Titan Seal, Reader Views Seal, Readers’ Favorite Seal. So, with all these awards, I was expecting, at a minimum, a well-written book.

What I WAS NOT expecting, and what I was not prepared for, was the screenplay-like writing format. At first, to be honest, it took a bit of getting used to. But soon, I was so engrossed in the story, the way it was formatted no longer mattered.

But I put this fact about the writing style out there first for those who would not enjoy that sort of arrangement. If you can’t mesh with that, this book may not be for you. But I would encourage you to give it a try, because the book itself I found to be exceptional.

What is Pulse about? At its foundation, Pulse is a horror book, and a downright scary one. It has the five key elements that mark every great horror book that I have ever read: 1)characters who could die any moment, regardless of their seeming importance to the plot or how beloved they are (so no one is safe, thus increasing the tension and suspense) 2)the element of utter and complete surprise when something horrible happens 3)Immensely terrifying monsters or menaces.

But Pulse is about so much more than mere carnage and fright because of the prospect of scary monsters ripping the characters apart. It is some of the humans who are the real monsters of the book. This is a novel about unchecked corporate greed, rampant, unrestrained capitalism, dirty politics, mayhem, and murder.

The titular Pulse company essentially has a monopoly on EVERYTHING in the year 2040, and is run by completely amoral executives, with a despotic father and slimy, selfish son at its head. Moreover, the company is tied to the highest levels of political influence, and essentially is the puppet master behind the most powerful of world governments.

Woe for humanity, for Pulse owners and execs cares naught for the utter destruction of the environment, human health, or morality, as long as it increases its global dominance, profit margins, and ascendancy. Additionally, Pulse eliminates competition in utterly ruthless fashion, where killing off competitors is just the floor for how far they are willing to go.

In this backdrop, Pulse plans an iconic music festival, as large in scale and scope as has ever been seen, reminiscent of the famous Woodstock. Yet unbeknownst to the Pulse planners, the festival appears doomed. First, an anti-corporation revolutionary group is planning to disrupt the festival, in an attempt to destabilize it, and rid the world of Pulse’s insidious control of society. Second, other anti-Pulse forces are working behind the scenes, for their own purposes.

And most importantly, third, seemingly born of the ecological havoc that Pulse has wreaked, a hideous creature is hunting humankind, and it’s hungry.

The sci-fi elements are extremely well-done in Pulse. The tech element I especially found fascinating was the drone robot, the P-7500, which had become for the average human an indispensable personal assistant. On the other hand, this robot is also used for protection and aggression in the wrong hands.

In terms of the dystopian aspect, the effect of climate change, pandemics, and corporate monopolies exerting undue sway over our lives, was depicted in chillingly prescient fashion.

For me, my only wish was for more exploration of the immense cast of characters that fill the pages of Pulse, because as those who read my reviews know I’m all about the characters. To the positive, there are some marvellous characters in Pulse – I just wanted to know a lot more about them.

But Bellec’s incredibly fast-paced plot does not leave as much room for additional exposition and backstory exploration. It’s also part of, I believe, the author’s plan, to reveal a lot more about some key characters (the few who end up surviving the first installment) in future books. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue surrounding two characters in particular: who and what they really are, and what the limits of their capabilities are. I can’t wait to find out more about them in future books.

To be clear, we have a large set of villains, heroes, and those whose motivations we are completely unsure of. There are multiple POVs, and at first, it’s a lot to keep pace with, but as the story unfolds, it all becomes easier to follow.

The completely gruesome and appealing monsters will send chills down your spine, the plight of those facing them will make you terrified for them, and rest assured there will be gore splattering the pages. The shadowy figures, corporate assassins, those possessed of unique and undecipherable abilities, brave whistle-blowers and activists, law enforcement officials, completely unethical businessmen, make for a diversified and intriguing group of perspectives.

The pace is breakneck, and heart-pounding. Your skin will crawl at some of the imagery regarding the creatures, you will sweat with the built-up tension, and you will be completely unable to extricate yourself from the compulsive narrative. If you want a plot-focused book that will keep you up at night, not only because it’s so good, but because it will creep you out, this is your book.

Bellec is a freakishly talented writer, who fans of horror, sci-fi, and thrillers should definitely put on their radar, and Pulse was a great read! 4.75 stars!

Purchase PULSE by B.A. Bellec

Review of Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

REVIEW – A TIME OF COURAGE – JOHN GWYNNE

 

 

 

Tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.