Book Review: Do the Dead Actually Die in This Dystopian Society?


By Mallory Hill

In Mallory Hill’s AuthorsFirst contest winning novel, TERMINAL REGRESSION, she creates a dystopian world within a Utopian existence. Meet Laura Bailey, a young adult trying to find her place in society, trying but failing. She’s grown up in the artist’s community. Both of her parents are highly gifted and well respected artists within the community. That was until 8 years ago when her father was selected to board the train. Everyone lives in Terminal A. Everyone knows if you board the train you never come back. 

Laura never gets over her father’s death and she doesn’t quite understand why he was chosen for it in the first place. If someone as good as him, as talented as him, as giving to the society as him was chosen how can she live up to that standard and still not be worthy of her place within the community?  

Laura does the unthinkable, she volunteers for a ticket, she volunteers for suicide. After “trying” all of the sectors and not finding a passion even in the arts where she has talent, she feels she’d be less of a burden on her mother and on society if she just boarded the train into oblivion. 

Thinking she was taking the train alone to her death, she is reunited with a childhood friend, Will Noble. They both sit together as they approach their end, realizing how much they appreciate not being alone at that moment.

When the train arrives at Terminal B they are separated. Laura is placed on a farm to work the rest of her life. Angry, she feels cheated from her much desired death. Until one day she sees Will crawling in the mud away from the power plant that she drives by daily to get to the farm.

Will wanted to be a police officer back in Terminal A, so while in training he noticed a man taking more than his rationed allotment. A fight ensued and Will was sentenced as a prisoner. In Terminal B every prisoner works at the power plant pulling levers in dripping water and being electrocuted the entire shift. 

Laura takes Will back to her apartment to nurse him back to reasonable health. He gets the next day off as the shift rotation is one day of work, one day of recuperating until eventually the prisoners die or become incapacitated to continue working. 

Laura finds friends at the farm and eventually takes Will there on his day off. Her time on the farm has taught her a valuable lesson that all life is precious. She can’t stand seeing her friends suffer and decides something must be done. There must be more to life than what they confront daily in Terminal B.

She realizes that her father isn’t dead but must be somewhere in Terminal B. She questions the society that separated the two terminals. She questions why her friends on the farm, Will, and people like her father aren’t good enough for Terminal A’s standards. Finally she has to act to save Will’s life, in the process she starts a revolution. 

TERMINAL REGRESSION is a wonderful story, sad and frustrating but equally captivating. Knowing how frustrating people in today’s societies struggle to find their place this story brings that struggle to light. 

TERMINAL REGRESSION is full of poignant topics that need to be addressed; all life is precious and even suicidal people have something to offer to others; those seemingly without a calling/purpose have something to offer to others; the ideal of Utopia is not without drawbacks, namely judgement of others and individual worth and above all no matter the despair there is always someone to help, no one ever need be alone in their struggle. 

This is a story that should be on every teenagers reading list. If it can save one life from being taken, if it can open the eyes of anyone doubting their self-worth, if it can spread light on how we judge each other rather than support and uplift each other, it is worth the time to read. More than that it is an entertaining story with the added bonus of giving much food for thought. Once you start reading, it is difficult to put down until you find out if Laura succeeds, until you find out if one person can make a difference in the Terminal societies. 

When all hope is lost, this story shows that hope can once again be found and it can move mountains, er walls, er trains.

It is well deserved to have won THE SECOND ANNUAL AUTHORSFIRST NOVEL CONTEST. Truly a story that one person can make a difference in the lives around them.

To learn about author Mallory Hill visit her website at:

To learn about AuthorsFirst please visit:

FTC disclaimer: I received an ARC of this title by The Story Plant for review purposes only; no other compensation was awarded. 


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