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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  277 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Robert Jackson Bennett's Vigilance is a dark science fiction action parable from an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence.

The United States. 2030. John McDean executive produces "Vigilance," a reality game show designed to make sure American citizens stay alert to foreign and domestic threats. Shooters are introduced into a "game environment," and the su
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  277 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC provided by the publisher——in exchange for an honest review.

A powerful and terrifyingly necessary novella; I sincerely hope that it’s not prophetic.

Gun violence and mass shooting, we’ve all heard about it; it has happened way too many times for the past couple of years. I’m not American, I never lose someone close to me to gun violence or mass shooting. Even then, I found that this book was dark, terrifying, and powerful because looking at the state of the world now, I can’t dispute t
OMG what a glorious, gloriously messed-up SF. :)

Bennett pulls off a great hat trick that follows some of the greatest SF stories ever written. He drills down on a single issue: Guns.

So... done, and perhaps overdone for years, right? Yes, of course! Because the problem is WORSE now than ever! Look at the Purge and dozens of others to show us where we're headed. It's the drill-down. Let's see our possible futures and see what kind of consequences are in store for us.

This one goes delightfully blo
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
If there's one thing John McDean loves more than anything else in the world, it's telling people to be vigilant.

Vigilance is not a very pleasant novel - but then, this never promised to be a look into America's optimistic future. What it is though, is timely, terrifying, and completely on the nose in it's observations.

Usually I won't give a high rating to something so bleak. But just occasionally, bleakness is trumped by a sense of importance, and this book touches on almost every point currentl
An extrapolation of US gun culture, big data and reactionary societal trends produces this disturbing book that reads like a combination of the Truman Show, the Running Man and modern-day mass shootings.

The plot here is very simple and best appreciated without spoilers as the ongoing horror of what Vigilance actually is unfolds to the reader. How the reader is going to take it depends largely on how you feel about things like "Thoughts and prayers", the NRA and the gun lobby wanting to arm every
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whoa. Super depressing and a plausible outcome when the nastiness, cynicism and violence in the US of today is extrapolated forward to a really dark future where mass shootings, marketing, AI and reality tv come together to sell more products and entertain.
Michael Hicks
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review of Vigilance can be found at High Fever Books.

In the near future, America’s favorite pastime — mass shootings — has become a ratings juggernaut. Under the supervision of executive producer John McDean, ONT (Our Nation’s Truth) irregularly broadcasts Vigilance, a reality TV game show that turns local malls, schools, train stations, restaurants, and other randomly chosen public arenas into grotesque scenes of mass gun violence for the entertainment of its home viewers.

although America do
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!


CW: sexism, mass violence, mass shootings, and graphic descriptions

My updates for this book looked a little like this:

“Well, this is terrifying.”
“Yep, this is terrifying.”
“That. Was. Fucked.”

The last one was my ending thoughts on the book, so that says a lot, right? This book was a force of violence. It shocked me and had my heart pounding. I mean, I read most of it in one of my classes (gra
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, novella
Chilling and scary, but also sad. Robert Jackson Bennett's near future setting seems frighteningly prescient. Anyone turning on the news today can see how the cultural of fear is decimating America, and the loss of all that potential because of it is simply painful to watch.

The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear. Fear of the monarchy. Fear of the elites. Fear of losing your property, to the government or invasion. A fear that, though you ha
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John McDean runs a US TV network. This network shows a program called "Vigilance" which is a reality show where a location is chosen and some people who signed up and happen to be in the area subsequently get to shoot everyone in sight. The reason? To check if the people in the area (could be a shopping mall or a train station or whatever) fight back, if they came prepared and thus potentially survive.
It is 2030 and America has succumbed to fearmongering. Gun sales are off the charts. McDean mak
kartik narayanan
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Vigilance tries to be a moralistic science fiction story in the vein of movies like The Purge and The Running Man, but ultimately does not have much going for it.

First off, let me state that I am liberal and, like anyone with a working brain, I think Trump is one of the worst things that could be inflicted on the world. Why is this important? Because Vigilance takes all the fears that liberals have, turns the dial to 11, fills the story with a number of Trumpisms and tries to the do same thing a
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
3.5 Stars

Read for SpecFic Buddy Reads- Febrauary BR.

My heart is still pounding!

Why can’t we find a way to get everyone to be vigilant, and get great ratings?
And thus, the game was born.

I was confused in the first 3 chapters as I tried to understand what Vigilance was and what was happening and where this was headed; then I was too excited when the Vigilance was about to start but then for some reason, I was so mad when it started!

“Hello, boys,” he says jovially. “Who’s ready to kill some motherf
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"The heart of the matter was that, from the beginning, America had always been a nation of fear.."

As I sit here writing this review, the narrative of the world continues to appear bleak. A cavalcade of grim events litter our news headlines steadily. MAGA-hat-wearing teenage boys protesting a woman's right to choose at the March for Life rally, then infringing upon the personal space of a 64 year old Native American vet, taunting him while he beat on his drum as part of the Ingenious Peoples Marc
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
How do you review a book that is well written and raises important question but is just horrible to read?

Vigliance is an examination of the violent and moronic obsession that many Americans have with guns. It’s a tv game show that places armed psychos within an unsuspecting civilian rich environment and then calls those civilians cowards for running away, unprepared for dying in front of the loved ones and pathetic because they have a gun but haven’t spent quite enough hours firing at stationary
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Dark science-fiction by Robert Jackson Bennett? Yes, please.

In a near-future (2030) America, Vigilance is a popular TV reality show in which shooters kill civilians in a variety of places (malls, restaurants etc). John McDean, the show’s cynical executive producer manipulates americans’ fears, and explores culture of fear and insecurity to increase ratings and advertising revenue. 

It’s hard to like any of the characters portrayed by Bennett. They’re not evil. They just don’t give a fuck anymore.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Well, that was depressing. And scarily possible.
This is one angry, vicious, violent, sarcastic satire. It's a near-future dystopian US where the hit reality TV show is Vigilance, in which a few contestants, "actives," try to kill as many people as possible in the selected venue (you opt in when you enter such areas, like the mall, sports stadium or airport; the signs at the door tell you so.) It's mass shootings evolved into entertainment & marketing. The story is mostly the PoV of the showrunner, who's all about the TMA's (Target Market ...more
Very different from his other books, Bennett has written a frightening story about America’s love affair with guns, fear of the ‘other’ and the marketing to that fear.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's obviously written by a hapless urbanite who didn't grow up with firearms and doesn't have a clue why people own them.

Some of the pontifications therein are just incandescently dumb... To wit(less):
“A firearm should provoke analysis and thought, not action. Or that’s how it should be, at least."

What? Huh? This guy thinks we should sit around staring at firearms and analyzing and thinking about them? (well, okay, maybe if it was a malfunctioning machinegun I might have to do that... Unwilling
Jessica Strider
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pros: thought-provoking, interesting characters, good social commentary

Cons: lots of adult content

In a future America, the hit reality TV show is Vigilance, where active shooters are sent into unprepared locations to see if the people there have what it takes to survive.

This novella is told through the perspectives of two people. First is John McDean, a marketing man and head of Vigilance’s production team. The second is Delyna, a bartender whose patrons are hyped to watch the next episode of
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-story
I was provided an ARC by in exchange for my open and honest review.

It is a terrible and wondrous thing to be so stunned by a story you lose your ability to use words. This story literally stunned me into silence. The only response I could muster for the first day was, "That was fucked."

I'll tell you why. I am from Las Vegas, Nevada. Born and bred. On October 1st of 2017, my hometown was visited by the worst act of mass gun violence in US history. I watched the news in horror as people ra
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the story progressed, I was getting disappointed that a writer of Bennett’s caliber would pop out such a derivative mashup of “The Right of the People” and something like “The Running Man”, but then as the end drew nearer the story took an unexpected turn, ending with a powerful bang that I can see will be a pointy finger poked into the eye of many people drawn to this novella by the lovely cover. Yes, it is satire, it does seem implausible that things would get this screwed up, but a couple ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise, lost steam, ending is predictable.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Publishing and the author for an advanced reading copy of Vigilance in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the work.

Vigilance is part The Purge and part (and I can’t believe I’m saying this, and my apologies to RBJ) Hunger Games. Shooters are thrown into hand-picked environments and it is kill or be killed, all for the sake of teaching American citizens to stand up and defend. Good news is: you survive, and you get a $h
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the near future, America watches a show where active shooters are plopped down in a public place - and the ratings are skyrocketing.

It's that last part of my one sentence review that blows me away. Please, never let us get to the place where we watch others be murdered as entertainment on TV. And the fact that there's even a small portion of myself that thinks this could happen is terrifying. That's where the author was genius with this novella. America, according to the storyline, is about g
Jan 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dumb, overtly simplistic political dystopian fiction

Robert Jackson Bennett is a talented author, but this one really missed the mark for me. It's a spitefully thin political screed masquerading as "thoughtful" science fiction that beats you over the head with its themes (Capitalism? Bad! White people? Dumb, greedy and racist! America? Awful place!) until you've reached a dull stupor and then bashes you over the head with them some more.

Now I actually don't mind a bit of politics in my speculativ
Hunter Pons
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Picked this up based on the reviews. The concepts in it are fun, nothing too new or thought-provoking other than the overt criticism of gun policy in America. There was one large plot hole I had a hard time getting over. In order for the premise to work, we have to assume that funding terrorism is somehow legal in this future America, a discrepancy not really addressed at all.

This short story also has excessive cursing and sexual innuendos. I would not mention this if it weren't for the fact th
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting read, lots of action to keep you hooked. The chapters were short and the story progressed quickly as well. The biggest drawback was the narrative style, the story is told in an odd, second-person omniscient language that never really allowed me to connect with the characters. That, coupled with a dystopian-style setting that was simply too unbelievable to accept, completely destroyed any semblance of Suspension of Disbelief for me.
Scott - Book Invasion
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, favorites
Holy wow. This book hits hard and is not for the faint or fragile. In the future, indiscriminate killing is the new television phenomenon.
This tells the story of the people behind the cameras/show and a few perspective from those caught in the fray. This book is very vulgar and brutal, and I don't know what that says about me but I laughed and I gasped and I loved it.
Jessica ☕
I really wanted to like it and excitedly bought it on release day.

I thought the premise was an interesting spin on America's refusal to end mass shootings - after all, if it is possible to make mass shootings rare and unlikely (it is, ask Australia), and you refuse to do so, it's not an unreasonable leap to conclude that it's because you like the idea that it could happen at any time.

Yet, it felt too preachy, and the gleeful overuse of perversion rendered the characters unrecognizable caricatur
John Lilly
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough to read, but provocative

Read it in one day. Tons to think about. But damming indictment of our values and where we are heading.
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 Wo ...more
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