The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson is a brutal tale about a town that has fallen into chaos due to a science experiment gone very, very wrong.
This is a story that you will want to make sure to read well after you’ve eaten…
TW: Child abuse, child murder, dog death, descriptive gore.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson
When this story begins, we get a transcription that at first seems like it’s just from a conspiracy theorist nut. He’s talking about a town where a murder suicide has been reported. But was the case really that simple?
From there, we jump to the town mentioned in that news clip where we learn that two high school kids, Lucy and Bucket, are dealing with brutal bullying because they are from other countries. Through the bullying, they have formed a deep friendship to help get them through school and onto whatever comes next. However, it’s not long before the first situation occurs where we see that something is wrong in this town.
As our main character, Lucy, copes with the aftermath, she tries to chalk what she saw up to the trauma of witnessing the event. To get her mind off of it, her and Bucket hang out, visit a record store, and talk about a party that’s coming up.
On the night of the party, Lucy doesn’t think she wants to go but she decides to join them last minute. Of course, this party can’t just happen like a normal party. It’s taking place in underground caves… And as I’m sure many readers would assume, things don’t go as planned. I mean, come on… A bunch of high schoolers with drugs and booze headed underground to light fires when the ground around them is very dangerous? Sounds like a brilliant idea.
When Lucy took her first step on the ladder headed down into the ground, I got a sudden chill like I was the one about to descend. Maybe it was the thought of her being in an underground cave, or maybe it was the darkness that the author included in these scenes, but my goodness was I claustrophobic for the duration of this setting! And that only got much worse during one very specific scene with some graffiti. If you’ve read this already, I’m sure you know exactly what scene I mean.
I do have to say that I really loved Lucy. Her childhood trauma was heartbreaking and I wanted everything to work out for her so badly. I loved that she was best friends with a guy from her class, Bucket. How open they were with one another reminded me of my relationship with my high school best friend!
But speaking of high school, there was a lot this story focused on high school related shenanigans; teenage angst, parties, drugs, sex, bullying, etc. The usual teenage junk.
For me personally, I just don’t have the best relationship with my high school memories and that has been a problem for me recently as I work through stuff in therapy. So some scenes that were very teenage angst filled took me out of the story as I just wanted to get on with things. That is not in any way a knock on Jeremy’s writing! He nailed the high school persona for sure. I think I just picked this up at a rough time and that it usually wouldn’t have bothered me during a normal reading session.
That being said, I absolutely loved the chaos that was going on. I never knew what to expect because there were so many twists and turns! The brutality was insane. The author certainly didn’t shy away from using description for any of the gore filled scenes! It was very vivid, so if you’re a bit squeamish, just tread carefully there! I, of course, loved it (as awful as that always sounds!).
The overall plot kept me hooked! While it was pretty bizarre at times as it centered around science and technology, the explanations of what was happening didn’t go overboard to bog the story down.
One last thing I’ll say before moving on to my favorite passages is that I LOVED the ending.
My Favorite Passages from The Loop
It was a moonless night, and the stars swam in thick drifts across the sky. Lucy looked straight up and breathed deep and wished that something would take hold of her and pull her straight out into space.
Lucy wondered where she might be at that exact moment if she hadn’t spent so much time trying to be the right version of herself for those around her.
There was the world behind them, and the world ahead of them, and all of it wanted them dead.
She figured people were born with a certain amount of mileage their hearts and minds could withstand, and she was running hers down at top speed.
My Final Thoughts on The Loop
Like I said above, I really think that I picked this up at a bad time. However, I’m looking forward to reading this again at a later date already!
If you enjoy tales centered around high school students where every second is tense and there is violence at every turn, then I highly recommend this one to you! It was absolutely brutal!
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Shout-out to the Night Worms crew for including this book and for adding a signed bookplate in the October package!