“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. – Mahatma Gandhi
I am the new kid on the block here, and in preparation for Wilde City Press Week, I was asked to review Moral Authority by Jacob Z Flores. Now, I will be honest and tell you that I normally don’t enjoy futuristic novels unless they are on the paranormal side of things. Well I am going to have to admit Jacob’s Moral Authority may have changed my mind forever.
Basically, this is a story of what happens when a government takes over the most basic choices from its citizens. As the story unfolds, we learn that the new 4th branch of the government, The Moral Authority, has taken over the responsibility of everyone’s moral compass. Not only is no one allowed to curse, but many other restrictions have been placed on all Americans. No longer can you ignore your fellow Americans, if someone greets you on the street, you better return the greetings with a smile, or you will be arrested. Do you love your cheeseburgers, not anymore you don’t. Each citizen has a caloric intake card and you are only allowed a certain amount per day. No more running late, because if you are found running down the sidewalk, disturbing other citizens, you could be arrested. Oh, and just for chuckles, don’t forget homosexuality is illegal also. If there is even a hint of a man looking at another man too long, there could be a ticket issued. Oh and the absolute scariest part of this novel? The former president that enacted the constitutional amendments that brought about the Moral Authority, yeah that would be former President Sarah Palin!!! Makes you shudder, huh?
In the beginning of the story our main character Mark Bryan is rushing for Starbucks to get his frappuccino that he has saved his allotted calories for. While in Starbucks he finds himself in an unusual predicament. Not one, but two gorgeous men are cruising him. This is a very dangerous situation for Mark. Luckily for him, one of the men saves him when two undercover Moral Authority officers catch the other man flirting a bit too obviously. This leads to a very candid conversation with the man who helped him. Mark finds himself intrigued by man #2, Isaac Montoya. Realizing after a close call he shouldn’t tempt fate, Mark ends the encounter right there but realizes Isaac has left his phone number. After some soul-searching, Mark decides to give Isaac a chance and he goes out on his first date, which leads to Isaac’s apartment and, well, you can guess what happens from there. Unfortunately, Mark should have trusted his sixth sense. It turns out he has been turned in for being homosexual, which leads to his being arrested, tried and convicted for homosexuality.
We then get to meet the patriots, the freedom fighters, the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).These are modern day rebels, people that do not agree with the Moral Authority. While learning about the HRC, I compared them to the kids in Red Dawn (Patrick Swayze version, duh). The difference is these guys have much more sophisticated weapons and equipment. Most of the members of HRC remind me of our liberals of today. As the story progresses, we realize that the HRC reaches much further than anyone expects.
Now, for the truly scary part of the book, The Moral Authority itself: The leader of the Moral Authority is Samuel Pleasant. But let me tell you this he is anything but pleasant. The scary part about Samuel is he truly believes in the Moral Laws. He is convinced that what he is doing is best for everyone. For him, the new additions to the constitution were the best things to happen to America in a long time. His nemesis, the HRC, has been striking with more accuracy and drawing attention to themselves. So, to draw them out and try to make them lose face, he decides to build “containment centers”. This is just a fancy term for concentration camps. All I am going to say is, anything you think Hitler may have done, Samuel Pleasant took it up a notch. To combat the HRC he has created his version of military police. They are called the K3s, yeah, you got that KKK. They even wear solid white fatigues, so, yeah, I told you this guy was scary.
So, we experience Mark’s arrival to Provincetown Detention Center and we get to witness Mark’s strength. Maybe not his physical strength, but his strength of character. Mark witnesses firsthand how bad it can get if you get out of hand. Yet when the K3s tell him and another man to dispose of some bodies on the beach, Mark refuses to leave without praying over the bodies, consequences be damned. Unknowingly, Mark earns the respect of one of his fellow inmates. We are then taken thru weeks of torture, both physical and mental, with Mark and his fellow inmates. He and a few of the men form a special bond, but a very traumatic event brings him closer than ever before to one man. In a virtual Hell, Mark finds love, and he finds some stolen moments of solace in the arms of a wonderful man.
As tensions heat up between the Moral Authority and the HRC the nation starts to divide and civil war seems unavoidable. There were some major betrayals that I never saw coming, but there were allies revealed that shocked me even more. I don’t want to give any spoilers, because I think it was enjoyable being blindsided by Jacob Flores’ twists and turns as they come.
This book will make you think, it will make you question your own morals, and if you are anything like me, it might just scare you to death. Just imagine yourself living in a country where uttering a curse word or two could land you in jail, where being friends with a gay man could land you in jail as a sympathizer, and where speaking your mind could literally get you shot.
One thing I did take away from this book was a quote from a surprising source, a high ranking officer in the K3s said this and it just struck me as a divine truth: The term is subjective to the whim of whatever individual espouses it. Morality means different things to different people. You just have to follow in step with what the majority thinks is moral, and you will do fine. I will leave you with these parting words and I will urge you to read this book. I went into this without being sure if I would make it thru the book, and now I am glad that I didn’t miss it.
Reviewed by: Jackie