Line by Niall Bourke is a stellar debut that certainly packs a punch. An adventurous piece of dystopian speculative fiction, Line’s plot centres around Willard, his mother, and his girlfriend Nyla – all of whom have spent their lives lining up.
As you piece together the meaning of this brave new world, The Line continues. Is it a method of control, distraction, or hope? Is it something devised by leaders to keep the population too exhausted to revolt? Is it the best of all possible worlds like so many believe it to be?
Rich in detail and description, Line evokes the mundanity of life spent waiting, reminding us at times of migration and the tragedy of refugees. Bourke peppers this novel with glimmers of humanity to keep us invested – frivolity, pleasure, affection – but be prepared for a bleak ride of wilful self-delusion and mob mentality. With plenty of 1984 parallels (doublethink and a handbook), and even a (perhaps unintentional) Red Dwarf nod (Nodnol), Line is a thoroughly well-conceptualised piece, which deftly draws on the state of the present to look ahead to what we could become.
“Rich in detail and description, Line evokes the mundanity of life spent waiting, reminding us at times of migration and the tragedy of refugees.”
Bourke’s plot is water-tight, his tone and description are characterful and distinct. All in all, Line is a blazing debut by a promising writer, who certainly knows how to weave the seeds of life – humour, sensuality, grief, love – into a grim tale. Courtney Byrne