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The Age of the Conglomerates: A Novel of the…

The Age of the Conglomerates: A Novel of the Future

by Thomas Nevins

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Normally I just post links to my blog reviews, but as this is an Early Reviewer book, I feel obliged to make this review as handy as possible. Regrettably, that means everyone will find out that this book is one of the absolute worst things I've ever read. (Note: I will append links to blog posts about this book as they appear.)

Now, I've hated other books before, but I don't think I have, in the last ten years, read a book cover-to-cover that was quite so inept as this one. I don't hardly even know where to start.

I'll try to start with kindness, viz. the only rather good line in the entire book: "The Conglomerates might try to strip the elderly of their dignity, but dignity was a quality that had eluded the Conglomerates and hindered their ability to control the words of the dignified."

Pretty good line. Too bad it's surrounded by abominations like "They were determined to see a future--for the babies." and "Nice trick with the shower though. You really outsmarted him." and "She gave Aunty a hug, which demonstrated their difference in body type."

I don't even know where to start with sentences like those. Let alone an entire book full of them. As part of a 500-word spoof, they would be fine, but this book takes itself a little too seriously for that kind of ballast.

I'm amazed and astounded this is being published by a major house, even if the author is an employee of said house.

Anyway, this is a dystopian novel, (fine), except dystopias seem to attract writers who never read speculative fiction. Now, I'm not out to defend SF as a seamless bastion of great writing, but, as a genre, it's been around long enough to iron out some of the boneheaded errors that its pioneers made. This book does not benefit from the last hundred years of trial and error and makes some of the shameless errors one might associate with a 50s pulp paperback.

For instance. This book takes place in 2048. So a person in the first part of middle age would have been a teenager, when, 2028? Close enough. Even if it were 2018 this would still be a good example.

So a character finds her old laptop, a heavy clunker that sounds straight out of 1994. It even has a dialup modem! Can you imagine! That screeches! And, when she finds this laptop, she uses it to log into an email account she hasn't accessed in years because.....it's on her laptop!

Or consider the golf courses some late-in-the-book characters use because that's where the water is. They've been abandoned, you see, so there's all this water just sitting around. Right. In Arizona.

Naturally, the golf course we see is accompanied by palatial homes and a strip mine, because the mine honchos want to live and golf right next to their huge hole in the ground.


I wish there were good things I could say about this book. And I guess there are. The author knows the form of the thriller. But knowing form does not a good book make. I laughed in disbelief at this book regularly. I kept starting other books to avoid going back to this one. If it hadn't been my first ER book, I would not have finished it. It's a total disaster.

There is, somewhere, maybe, a good book in here, but finding it would require scrapping the whole thing and starting over. Clever names, for instance, like Coots and Dyscards (which the author is obviously quite proud of), are very difficult to accept as plausible. Constant exposition displaces storytelling. The whole thing is just.....

Yeah. I think I've said enough.


  thmazing | Jan 9, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A promising premise but it doesn't deliver. Unfortunately not well written and forgettable. I like the idea of a dystopian society but the book comes across rather like a less interesting version of 1984, to which it will invite comparisons, I'm sure. ( )
  xaverie | Jul 29, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Don’t get old, we’ll ship you out west. Don’t become a burden or embarrassment for your parents, they’ll trade you in for a new child, a better one. This is the world in the Age of the Conglomerates, and it’s about to come crumbling down.

So, basically it was just o.k. Not that I didn’t like it, the ideas were pretty decent and the characters were decent, it just felt rushed. First of all, too much was given away in the prologue. For a dystopian novel, which is what this one felt like it was trying to be, too much was spoon fed to me. It probably would have been better if the reader was allowed to discover some of the structure of this weird future on their own. Other than that, it just felt incredibly rushed, especially towards the end when everything started coming together. I’d be interested to see the next book by this guy, because his ideas are nice, but the expression needs some work.
  jerm | Jul 10, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
NOTE: I reviewed this book about a year ago, but when I tried to move the book using the collections feature it totally disappeared, along with the review, and I had to add it back to my library.

I received this as an ER book. I'm certain the author was well intentioned, and the book has an interesting premise. Unfortunely, I believe the book is being published prematurely. There is too much "telling not showing", awkward writing, and the plot wanders around with too many loose ends for my tastes. Not every work will be a writer's best and I could easily see this story being revised in time. Even the best known authors have released substantially retold tales and this would be a candidate - decent idea in need of some polish. ( )
  GwenH | Jun 10, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I thought the basic premise of this book was interesting and relevant. The Future is reminscent of Orwell's 1984 with Big Brother (in this case the Conglomerates) always watching. The Coots (senior citizens) are packed away to government retirement communities without a warning. A child who gets out of line can be kidnapped and thrown into the bowels of the city as a Discard. The Salter family represents all of these seperate aspects of this new society. Christine Salter, a high up administrator at a genetics facility, must deal with the transportation of her grandparents and the kidnapping of her sister. Though there were many elements of the story I enjoyed I did feel there were portions of the plot that tripped up my enjoyment. For example, Christine and her sister are depicted as having typical sisterly rivalry even though their ages seem so disparate. How can there be rivalry between a young teenager and a clearly grown woman who is running a mult-million company. Overall it isn't an awful book. It just felt like it needed to refined better before it hit the bookshelves. ( )
  theresak1975 | Dec 10, 2008 |
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Me: "Hey, Dad, how are ya doin'"?
Dad:"Not bad, for an old coot!"
For my mother and father,
Pat and Pete Nevins,
thank you for everything.
First words
The Social Security Administration failed. (Prologue)
It was New Year's Eve and, for once, Christine Salter had the dress and the plans.
He wondered what they had done to her to make her so hard, but, then again, everyone became hard in the age of the Conglomerates.
Christine looked down and saw that in her haste to take care of all she had to do before she came down to meet the chairman, she had put on her shirt without putting on a bra. As she noticed this, so too did the chairman of the Conglomerate party.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375503919, Paperback)

Product Description
Now that they are in power, there are no more checks and balances. The Conglomerates, and their mysterious party chairman, have taken over everything and everyone. There is no one left to stop them.

Forty years in the future, in a world where Big Brother runs amok, a powerful political party known as the Conglomerates has emerged, vowing to enforce economic martial law at any cost. Dr. Christine Salter, director of genetic development at a New York medical center, is in charge of "genetic contouring," the much-in-demand science of producing the ideal child. But Christine is increasingly troubled by odd events, including the strange disappearance of Gabriel Cruz, a co-worker for whom she has a developing affection, and the fact that her latest assignment–making the Conglomerate chairman more youthful through genetic engineering–is an especially dangerous task.

As mandated by the Family Relief Act, Christine’s grandparents are relocated to a government-designed community in the American Southwest, along with other Coots (the official term given to the elderly), who are considered an economic and social burden to family and society. But even in this cold, cruel age, the Conglomerates can only control so much.

In his enthralling debut, Thomas Nevins thrillingly chronicles a brave new world where one family struggles to survive by keeping alive feelings of mercy, loyalty, and love.

Amazon Exclusive: Thomas Nevins Introduces The Age of the Conglomerates

Q: What could be relevant about a novel of the future?
A: Tomorrow is based on today. Take me, for example. I’m in the middle of life (I hope!), and in the in between generation. We have our parents to care for, and our children too.

But, this is a novel, with people, with hearts and minds, who like to be with one another, and hopefully, readers will too. The Age of the Conglomerates is a story about a family. They live in a world we have left them, a civilization administered by the private sector, where the Conglomerate party mega markets their message, and those who don’t buy into it, or fit, are shown the exit. I based two of the characters, Patsy and George, on my parents and the struggle they had when they became elderly, and a love that often healed them. I live and work with a lot of very talented and terrific young people and I wanted them to know that there are some of us who are thinking about them and want them to have a great future. And I wanted a chance to fulfill a dream and write a book, one that had a place, had merit, and is fun and a quick read. I hope you’ll give it a try.


Thomas Nevins

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:30 -0400)

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