My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The US federal government is dysfunctional. (What else is new?) Separatist groups form in New England, the Deep South, Minnesota, the West, and on the Texas-Louisiana border there is a strange thing called the Independent Nation of Milam. Former president, Richard Jackson, has twin sons, Andrew and Thaddeus. Richard is the leader of the Southern Territory, he is suffering from cancer, and he has a right wing agenda. Thaddeus is a liberal who runs away to Alaska where he lives off the grid as a survivalist. The former director of the CIA launches something called Broken Protocol, which prompts the recall of Agent Lozen Kyway from France. She is dispatched to Alaska to guard Thaddeus and take him to the Federal North Pole, which is the splinter group in Minnesota. The Federal North Pole is big into a mysterious alternate energy source and some strange device everyone has to wear on their wrists. The Southern Territory is determined to take Washington DC. The New North is determined to stop them. The Federal North Pole wants Thaddeus to be their diplomat in negotiating an alignment with the New North. We don’t know anything about the Independent Nation of Milam or the western region.
The Chaos of Change is the first book in a trilogy. In the opinion of this reader, each installment of a series should be a stand-alone story. Chaos ends in chaos with no satisfying conclusion. The plot in general is rather disjointed. Many things happen that apparently do nothing to advance the story. We never learned what the function is of the wrist devices in the Federal North Pole, and their new energy source has a byproduct that is some kind of high-tech club, which seems pointless because everybody else has guns and rocket launchers. The prose is solid enough. J.T. Riggin uses some unusual word pairings that sometimes work and sometimes don’t, like ‘dipping’ into a stairwell. The characters are well enough developed, but some of them aren’t particularly likeable. In a story of this sort, one would expect there to be an agenda—support of liberalism or conservatism—but I couldn’t determine which way it leans. Maybe it doesn’t lean. I couldn’t be sure of that either. I dislike leaving unfavorable reviews, and I would not write this one if I weren’t obligated by the rules of the Rave Review Book Club to write reviews of members’ books. I hope Mr. Riggen can be philosophical about this.