Verdict: THE LINES OF UNION is a bit verbose and would be more politically effective if it were edgier, but ultimately Fitzgerald writes about American politics in fresh way: looking toward the future with elements of the past, while destroying the present.
K.C. Bryce Fitzgerald makes THE LINES OF UNION a magnification of the present, or a warning
for the future. Political parties own everything from the internet to toothpaste, and the profits from
basic consumer items are funneled into their respective colors: red or blue.
John Herald is a voice for the people and aims to spark a reformation, which ultimately ignites into a bloody revolution, centering around the Constitution and the phrase “We the people.” Suddenly John finds himself leading a troop called the Heralders (named for their leader), who will stop at nothing to strike down the greediness of the parties and detach the government from sponsorship and lies.
While Fitzgerald does an excellent job of setting up radical political views for his characters, the
characters themselves are not as fully developed. They represent grand ideas, but don’t emulate
human nature. John Herald, the main character, is a typical Libertarian, who is softened by Christina, a bouncy young volunteer. When tides continue to turn dark throughout the narrative, their romance is whittled down to simple declarative exchanges: John says, “You’re beautiful,” “You’re pretty,” and “I like you” to his lover, without the depth seen in other places in the text. Secondary characters are only distinctive because of an odd quirk that sets them apart, like always carrying a jar of pickles, making constant gay jokes, or an obsession with gerbils.
Fitzgerald’s film background—he is an alumnus of the independent film program at UC Santa Cruz
and has had films screened at both the LA Music Video Film Festival and the Santa Cruz Film
Festival—is evident in his new medium. At times, the dialogue reads like a screenplay and action
scenes are described down to the last detail, including sound effects. Although picked apart by every movement, the battle scenes aren’t always easy to imagine, but they ably reflect the true chaos and upheaval of war.
The novel moves quickly and Fitzgerald wastes no space describing the downtime of the characters,
unless there is tension in the scene. Consequently, even when the characters are bored, the reader is
not. The constant underlying question remains: Will the Heralders succeed in their revolution?
Seeking the answer keeps the reader turning pages and lends intrigue to political conversations, even if the reader isn’t politically savvy.
THE LINES OF UNION is ultimately not a novel about the “individual,” but rather larger themes,
which is complemented by Fitzgerald’s choice to write in the third person. The novel casts a shadow
on the future of America, but also plants a seed of something new, dangerous, exciting, and possibly
necessary. The book is a bit verbose at times and would be more politically effective if it were edgier, but ultimately Fitzgerald writes about American politics in fresh way: looking toward the future with elements of the past, while destroying the present.
~Mary Jordan Hill for IndieReader