The Punishments by J.B. Winsor


I wanted to like this book. I really did. The plot—an America ruled by Christian fundamentalists and biblical law—was ripe with possibility. Unfortunately, The Punishments failed to live up to it. There is at least one scene that borrows heavily from a scene in George Orwell’s 1984 (if you’ve read it, you’ll recognize the similarities instantly). I found that a bit annoying as it threw me out of the story I was reading, but it happened very early on, so I was willing to overlook it.

What I couldn’t overlook was the predictable way the story advanced. The one twist that actually surprised me a little wasn’t enough to impact the way I felt about the story overall. Something else that bothered me was there was too little ‘show’, and far too much ‘tell’ in the writing. Towards the end, it felt like I was reading a lists of actions and reactions, rather than losing myself in a story.

I was greatly disappointed because I felt it could have been so much better.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Boulder Digital Publishing, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

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Author: J.B. Winsor
Title: The Punishments
Genre: Dystopia
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 by Boulder Digital Publishing, LLC
Rating: 2 stars

About the Book

An Orwellian thriller – The heart-pounding story of a family after electing a demagogue and fundamentalists who adopt Biblical Law for moral punishments.

The economy sucks. Robots keep eliminating middle class jobs. Terrorism is a constant threat. The CIA and FBI can’t stop terrorists. The bureaucratic IRS needs to be shaken up.

Angry, fearful voters elect a narcissistic demagogue President and fundamentalist congress. The CIA, FBI and IRS are organized into a super-department, the Department of Virtue, with a mandate to bring the nation back to its Christian roots. Virtue’s director institutes Biblical Law punishments as an example to those who break the commandments. Only two US Senators — and one mysterious woman — can prevent a disaster.

About the Author

Growing up in a small Midwestern town, JOHN B. WINSOR had a vivid imagination and unquenchable sense of adventure. And he never outgrew them. With boundless enthusiasm and curiosity he has pursued adventure, in many forms, throughout his life.

As a business leader, he built a media network of newspapers, magazines and websites. He fought to preserve one of America’s great ecosystems from a giant mining operation as board chairman of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

He was founding director of the University of Colorado’s ATLAS Institute, an interdisciplinary environment to explore the opportunities presented by new communication technology. As a technology innovator, he was among the first to use satellites to disseminate information. He nurtured the love of reading in children by creating Dial-a-Story.

And as for outdoor adventure . . . J.B. was on one of the earliest expeditions to China’s remote Kingdom of Muli. He has lived, hunted and fished with indigenous people on six continents. He has been face to face with a grizzly during the Yellowstone fires, survived two airplane crashes and a boat sinking in the Arctic. It’s been quite an adventurous life, and great fodder for a busy storyteller.

During the winter, John and his wife, Tish, live in Boulder, Colorado. Each spring, they head to their Wyoming ranch to write, fly fish, hike, and spend time with their three children and eight grandchildren.