We, The Watched acclaimed by Kirkus Reviews

I felt especially honored today to receive a glowing review of my debut novel, We, The Watched, from Kirkus Reviews, a highly respected institution in the book publishing world.

Check out this amazing excerpt:

Fueled by a brilliantly nebulous backdrop, this briskly paced, action-packed novel is undeniably a page-turner of the highest order…

A deeply allegorical and powerfully thought-provoking dystopian must-read.

KIRKUS REVIEWS

We, The Watched coverHead over to Kirkus to read the full review! Then, if you haven’t read it yet, check out this page for a list of stores to buy We, The Watched in digital or paperback. You can also get the eBook for FREE by joining my mailing list!

Told from the unique first-person perspective of an amnesiac, acclaimed novel We, The Watched places the reader in the shoes of Seven as he struggles to go unnoticed in a surveillance society and discover his true identity. Seven enters a dystopia where the government conducts mass surveillance and keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. The Church has become as powerful as the State, and people who resist are called Heretics and face execution.

I want to address the reviewer’s one criticism about sexism on the part of the protagonist. The reviewer makes a fair point here, and it’s something that I consciously improved upon in the sequel, Divided We Fall, and my writing since then. I definitely take these kinds of concerns seriously, and I’m glad this criticism did not stop the reviewer from recommending We, The Watched as a must-read.

Hope you enjoy We, The Watched — I can’t wait to read YOUR review!

The Watched Angel

Found this photo recently and just thought it was really cool! I took this in a cemetery in Adelaide, South Australia. Really captures a theme in my novels about the collusion of Church and State.

Angel watched by surveillance
The Watched Angel | Photo by Adam Bender

That should get you in the mood to read WE, THE WATCHED and DIVIDED WE FALL! For more surveillance pics, check out my Tumblr! And please send in your own pics, too!

 

World building in dystopian novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall

We, The Watched and Divided We Fall are set in an unnamed nation that is not unlike the US, UK, Australia or other “western” countries, but is much further along in its use of government surveillance.

While technically science fiction, I purposely avoided any out-there, overly futuristic elements in order to keep these books as grounded in reality as possible. The surveillance technologies discussed in the book mix what’s available today with what there is potential for in the future. I wanted to create a place that, while fictional, didn’t seem like much of a stretch given the current debate over government surveillance.

My novels have two interlinked, overarching conflicts, with three sides.

Within the country, you have the government and the Church together in a fight against revolutionaries who call themselves the Underground. Essentially, I took America’s First Amendment promise of separation of Church and State and turned it on its head. By uniting, they exercise totalitarian control over the people. The government provides physical enforcement while the Church spreads the psychological propaganda that keeps the people in line.

Illustrating the merger of Church and State is the motto of the Guard, the nation’s army:

PATRIOTS ARE THE TRUE. HERETICS ARE THE DAMNED.

Holding to that policy, the Guard keeps a Watched list of suspicious citizens. Those who are found out as Heretics face public execution.

Are you being watched? Take the quiz!

Naturally, not everyone’s going to agree with that, and the strongest opponents have formed a revolutionary group called the Underground. Funded by a mysterious benefactor, the Underground collects evidence of the government’s wrongdoing in an effort to gather followers and spur an uprising.

The symbol of the Underground.
The fire-eyed graffiti symbol of the Underground.

Meanwhile, there is a second conflict–an international war between the nation and an unnamed Enemy. The division between the government and the Underground makes the nation weak against the Enemy. The more internal division, the worse things seem to get in the war against the Enemy.

The hero of my novels, Seven, enters this nation without memory. Like the reader, Seven finds it all very strange and forms an opinion of who is in the right and who is in the wrong. But what can one man do, especially when the punishment for treason is execution?

Find out this answer and more in We, The Watched and the sequel, Divided We Fall, available now from Amazon and other major online booksellers!

You can also get the first book free by signing up for my newsletter via NoiseTrade below! If you sign up in the next month, I’ll throw in the sequel! (eBooks only)

Black Friday deal: free dystopian novel Divided We Fall by Adam Bender

Sorry folks, this deal is over! However, you can still get a free copy of Divided We Fall by joining my newsletterThe Underground.

Propaganda by the author

Black Friday is all about great deals, so in that spirit I’m giving away my dystopian novel Divided We Fall on Story Cartel!

That’s right, you can get the eBook version of this dystopian love story about surveillance right here without spending a single [insert your favorite unit of currency here]! And Divided We Fall will continue to be free for the next three weeks!

All I ask in return is that you write an honest review of the novel on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog or any other place you see fit. You can submit the review to Story Cartel for Amazon gift cards and other great prizes.

As an indie author, I have a smaller marketing budget and word of mouth is very important. One of the best ways to convince readers to give my books a try is to show them reviews by other readers like them. I’m not just talking about super-glowing reviews (though these are nice). I’m talking about honest, objective customer reviews that clearly lay out the good and bad elements of a given novel.

Divided We Fall by Adam Bender
What are you waiting for? Get this book for free on Story Cartel!

If you have already read Divided We Fall, I’d of course still love to hear what you think. Please leave a review on the website of the store you bought it, as well as Goodreads if you are a member. Please also spread the word about this giveaway to your friends.

As an indie author trying to expand his audience, I really appreciate all your help!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Divided We Fall leaves you ‘not only wanting, but needing more’: Readers’ Favorite review

Dystopian love story DIVIDED WE FALL has just received a four-star review from Readers’ Favorite. Reviewer Nichole Moser writes about the new novel:

In Adam Bender’s Divided We Fall, we follow the story of Eve Parker and Jon Wyle. They are members of the Elite Guard: a special task force dedicated to finding and arresting those who resist the Church. After meeting during a stake-out, Eve and Jon quickly form a relationship, a relationship which is tested when Jon accepts a special mission. He is to infiltrate the rebel heretic group known as the Underground, and bring them down from the inside. But it means forgetting who he is, and who he loves. It is up to Eve to bring him back, but she finds that not is all as it seems. She questions who the true Enemy is, and the teachings she followed her entire life. She must make the decision to follow God and country, or the love of her life at the risk of losing her own.

There are few novels I can read in one sitting, but Adam Bender’s Divided We Fall was one of them. It is fast-paced, intriguing, and had me wondering what was coming just around the corner. It had me not only wanting, but needing more. Eve and Jon are both relatable characters, as relatable as possible in a dystopian setting. But is it? The idea of government surveillance has been in the news for years, and Divided We Fall goes into detail about a very real and very current issue. Eve’s revelation of the world as a mix of colours rather than black and white was beautifully written and a lesson for all. Jon’s transformation into Seven was well-written and shows us the true potential of humanity – if we strip away the bias and focus solely on the good of all, we see what Seven knew all along: united, we are stronger. But divided, we fall.

Divided We Fall by Adam Bender
Divided We Fall by Adam Bender

DIVIDED WE FALL has also been acclaimed by a Publishers Weekly reviewer who said “the novel raises interesting questions about the influence of propaganda on the construction of the self, the idea of true tabula rasa and the power of memory.”

You can learn more about DIVIDED WE FALL at www.wethedivided.com.

Find out whether the government is watching you with this handy quiz. Then see if you can separate the Patriots from Heretics in the online game Watched Sweeper.