This post of The Intelligence Factor by author Mike Logsdon has been adapted from two previous posts. First is the spoiler free review, followed by the spoiler full review and summary.
Thank you so much to author Mike Logsdon for providing me with a copy of his book in order to write an honest review.
Spoiler Free Review
The Intelligence Factor is an action movie written into a novel. It’s fast paced, exciting, violent, and has extremely high stakes.
It’s about two warring political sides. You have the Church of New Morality, a spiritual and political movement that has just taken control of the highest office in the nation. The new president is a Bishop no less.
The Intelligence Factor (IF) is the group opposing them.
With only that information I would easily say that I’m on the side of IF. I do not in any way want a church running my government. I oppose the laws that are quickly set forth by this regime.
The Church of New Morality’s first actions are to replace the death penalty with publicized lobotomies and abolish the Bill of Rights minus the second amendment because who needs freedom of speech when you have guns!
What’s punishable by lobotomy? Well, pretty much anything that your traditional Christian god would be against. Sins like sodomy and talking back to your lord and savoir President Bishop Joseph.
So obviously I’m not down with any of that. Should make this pretty cut and dry right?
Well the opposing side, IF, is against those thing too. However, they are a terrorist organization and they’re not just labeled that because they go against a fascist regime.
They are clearly a terrorist organization complete with indiscriminate violence, murders, and bombings galore. Well shit, I’m not really down with that either.
The Intelligence Factor’s greatest success as a book is that it causes all morality to be colored gray. It really highlights how dangerous blindly following an ideology can be. You must think for yourself and be held responsible for your own choices and actions in order to find a more objective morality.
Don’t worry though, this book isn’t all heavy and existential. It has some really great and intense action sequences as well as some much appreciated humor and levity.
It’s a well balanced and well paced book that had me turning pages as quickly as my eyes could keep up.
There are times when the flow is interrupted by flashbacks or when I felt like maybe the book had a few too many characters to juggle but those flaws are easily overlooked when you’re entertained.
This is a new kind of dystopian fiction. It’s far more realistic than many of the YA bestsellers that are so popular but it’s never so grounded that it isn’t fun to read. The parts that we can identify as plausible are horrifying but there’s just enough over the top craziness to keep you from feeling bogged down with real fears.
The Intelligence Factor is thought provoking but can still function as escapism. As I said, well balanced, just as any good ideology should be.
The Intelligence Factor Summary
The Intelligence Factor reads like a fast paced action thriller, it’s political and filled with intrigue and has absolutely no shortage of explosions and shootouts. It was both thought provoking and a lot of fun to read.
This one is a page turner.
It opens with the assassination of two high profile controversial writers. Someone has deliberately blown up their plane. A journalist knows who and is about to tell someone on the other side of the phone when they are sniped dead from a distance.
I’m hooked, tell me more.
Flash forward to a few decades later and we see that America is in the midst of a presidential election where a new political party run by the Church of New Morality takes the position by a landslide.
The new president is Bishop Edward Joseph. This news immediately causes his own little brother to commit suicide. I don’t care where you’re from, that’s a pretty big red flag.
One of the first actions President Bishop Joseph takes is to replace the death penalty with lobotomies. Life is precious you see.
While President Bishop Joseph is making dramatic changes to legislature a new terrorist cell known as The Intelligence Factor (IF) appears on the scene. They base their philosophy on the old writings of Wirth and Hoffman, the two who were assassinated at the beginning of the book. The case of their murders is reopened due to this new highlighting of their thought pieces.
Back in Washington the Bill of Rights is repealed, minus the second amendment of course, people need their guns, and a morality act is passed which says that all acts that are anti god or basically against classic Christian morals as stated by the president’s own biases are punishable by prison or lobotomy.
Okay, so this is my nightmare. This is terrifying. This is where to book starts to split your own morality into shades of gray and this is what this book does so well. I know now that I’m against this president’s regime. His views clearly do not align with my own. But that means I’m on the side of the terrorists… hmm…
Let’s table that for a second. Flash over to a college campus where we meet twin brothers Steve and Joey. Steve and his girlfriend Jane are studying the works of Wirth and Hoffman together. This is illegal.
Jane is arrested by the Special Matters of the Interior (SMI) forces and Steve is determined to get her free.
We now meet Farrell and Whitaker, members of the SMI who have been tasked with solving the Wirth and Hoffman (great names by the way, really just rolls off the tongue as a duo) assassinations.
Farrell is not a true believer, he really more just has this job. So he pretends he’s New Morality in order to not cause waves.
After this introduction we are treated to our first shoot out between Farrell and Whitaker and members of IF.
I don’t honestly read a lot of thrillers or action books so I can’t say if this is the norm. But I do watch way too many action movies and I can say that this has all the same markings. Logsdon understands pacing and he does as best as one can of keeping focus of the action without losing track. It’s difficult in a book to follow the patterns of a fire fight but I think he is successful for most of them.
Steve is now officially a member of IF and is going to drive for his first terrorist outing. The leader of his small troupe is a psychopath named Alexander who kills indiscriminately through this mission. Cops, children, any civilian in his way is gunned down gleefully.
Remember, this is the side that I apparently agree with. Yikes, this is uncomfortable. Alexander serves to show that you can align with an ideology but not with individuals who act on its behalf. I in no way condone child murder to further your cause, no matter how noble.
After this intense scene we get a flashback of Steve’s dad murder suiciding Steve’s mom. I could have done without the flashbacks in this book. I think they do serve to establish some motivations for his character but they did take me out of the flow of the novel as a whole.
Steve then finds Jane. Hooray! She’s on display at a lobotomy museum. Uh what?!
This is even more horrifying! Apparently, those who get lobotomized by this new regime are put on display as a warning to any sinners. Basically a modernized heads on pikes outside the castle walls.
These new laws are bananas. You can attempt to repeal your lobotomy sentence by walking a tight rope over a pit of spikes. If you succeed, you get life in prison instead, if you fail you’re impaled on spikes.
I would watch this movie.
Steve and Joey go to visit their half sister at some kind of foster home situation. She strongly believes in god and New Morality but Steve is conflicted of whether or not he should recruit her to his side.
Steve also is an ad man for a big tech company and he comes up with a slogan for their new smart phone speculum 3G. Speculum. The slogan? Window to the soul.
Okay, something’s going on here. This is when it dawned on me that this book contains some quite humorous aspects of satire and that I can calm down a little a laugh in between the horrifying over the top political nightmare that I had been plunged into.
The levity ads a nice reprieve from the dystopia.
Steve is back on another mission with Alexander and is ordered to kill someone for the cause. Faced with this tough moral dilemma Steve makes what I think is the right call and opts to not take the life.
Shortly after this though Steve starts hearing voices. They highlight all of his insecurities and accuse him of killing god.
Then he finds out that his twin has betrayed him. Joey ratted out Jane to SMI.
Farrell and Whitaker have since caught up to Alexander and are questioning him for information about IF. He gives up the information surprisingly quickly.
He has the name for the journalist who covered the assassination as well as links to the current president. He also throws Steve under the bus for good measure.
So Steve is now on the run and goes into hiding with other IF refugees.
Farrell and Whitaker find more links to connect the assassination with the current president and IF is running around blowing up museums.
I definitely do not condone destroying historical and scientific archives! Argh! How is my choice between that and forced public lobotomies! What a bleak future!
IF is going explosion crazy and they car bomb Joey.
To further the action movie mentality we come to a three way firefight between IF, the FBI, and SMI. This is all very exciting and had me turning pages as quickly as my eyes could move across them.
Steve is rising in the IF ranks and is now tasked with leading a massacre at a church. Where he knows that his little sister will be attending a large birthday party with many other children. He tells them this but they don’t believe him and proceed with the plan.
Cut to children being gunned down with violent obscenity.
Oh shit! Oh wait, phew it was all a dream. But kudos for even describing it, had me going there for a second.
Steve was dreaming, remember he was also hearing those voices? Turns out that speculum smart phone has some mind control aspects that must’ve been in the super fine print.
He ratted out IF to SMI the day before and was since hospitalized for the whole psychosis problem.
We then get one last big shoot out in which Alexander is killed amidst the chaos.
The president is also assassinated.
Unfortunately, we find out this was not before the government lobotomized Steve and displayed him next to Jane.
Farrell goes to visit them and discretely unplugs their feeding tubes so that they can die together and move on towards peace.
I LOVE this ending.
Any book with the fortitude to kill the protagonist automatically gets bonus points with me. I love a good bummer ending but this one also has the element of hope for the future.
What a roller coaster! I really like how this book plays with morality and how things are never simply black and white. It had me torn and confused but ultimately made me think.
There is not a good side or a bad side here. There are only good and bad people, on all sides. You have to choose your own actions in each moment.
Don’t just pick a side and follow along, but do pick up this book.
4/5 helicopters 🚁🚁🚁🚁
For another indie book political thriller check out The Soldier’s Perspective.
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Buy it here: The Intelligence Factor