A New Dystopian Thriller From A Familiar Author: Reviewing "No Child Of Mine" by Olga Gibbs

§ I received an ARC of this book from BookSirens to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

In the year 2273 Britain has changed drastically: a totalitarian party, and such it does not tolerate any other opinions. The citizens are fed fine propaganda on how great the party is, and how lucky they are that they live in this country. 

The main character of “No Child of Mine” is no different: Tom believes in every word that had been spoon-fed to him since childhood. However, things change as a strange virus starts to spread across New Bristol. During a desperate attempt from the government to conceal source, Tom experiences events that he had assumed The Party would never allow. 

In a desperate bid to keep his family safe, they try to reach safety – breaking the rules that come with the worst punishments.

No Child Of Mine By Olga Gibbs

Within the first 20 pages, you can easily tell that Gibbs drew inspiration from real life events and methods. The propaganda machine is ramped sky high, and people believe all of it. On offer are parades to celebrate the "glory" of the new state. The lack of freedom movement is passed as a privilege – since it is only granted during state approved holidays. Forget freedom of speech. Naturally, the secret police (aka State Security Unit) isn’t missing either. All of this comes with the privilege of having to work 24/7 with only 5 days of bi-annual leave. 

In fact, the party is so gracious that it even builds sky-high and identical living blocks, where each looks the same. This is extremely reminiscent of the Хрущобы in the Soviet Union – even though, the Soviet Union built them due to a housing crisis. Meanwhile, the free citizens in “No Child of Mine” have no privacy even at home: there is a broadcast unit which is always on - either transmitting news, or pictures with nature sounds. Not even windows are available, thus the party controls the lights and wake-up times. 

This paints a haunting image of a world where the most controlling aspects are accepted and sometimes even branded as freedom. On top of this, it is not an especially unrealistic future, since most of those aspects had happened in history before. 

Gibbs makes perfect use of this, especially at the start. The difference between Tom and Judy’s mindset are clear as day. Tom who was raised by the party versus Judy who knows that it only takes a small slip to end up dead. 

Unfortunately, we don't get much insight on Judy's thoughts because she is killed off early in the story. This seemed like a missed opportunity, especially because there are parts of the story told from her point of view. Thus, it is reasonable to assumed that she would also shape up to be a big part of the it. Instead she merely serves as a plot device for her husband: Tom. 

In fact, there is a total lack of characters that aren't male. There are only a few female side-characters. Some of them don't even speak - they just seem to be peppered in between to show that women exists in The Federation Britannia well. 

While some of it might be explained away by saying The Party encourages traditional gender roles, there is no reason why lawless people who live strive off the norm shouldn't be female. 

This is not to undermine Tom, since his character development is perfectly done. He starts as a completely brainwashed happy citizen who would never even doubt the Party. He has been fed propaganda and slogans for all of his life and had never known anything else. When the State Security Unit first appears, he assumes that everything is going to be sorted out correctly. Even though, he is given absolutely no information about why. As the story develops, doubt starts to creep into him. Yet, he tries to hold onto the ideals he's been raised with. A desperate attempt to cling to what he had always assumed was right. 

This in combination with desperation and survival leads to high tension in the right moments. Especially when cornered, there is only one thing that drives him: getting his daughter to safety. 

Those events are depicted as panicked and messy. The passages are written as fast as they take place and I hated to put down the book in such moments. 

Not all of “No Child of Mine” is high-tension, fast-paced. There are slower parts, used for reflection, past regrets as well as softer moments. Then, Tom’s morals and regrets come back to him, as well as the things he had to do to survive. 

Even on the run Tom considers what being this would do to his daughter. What kind of life would she be leading? And when would they be okay again? There are also further consideration what the traumatic stress is going to do to Tilly. This is a refreshing change compared to the usual ranger of thrillers - where such thoughts are ignored. 

In the end, Tilly feels like a real daughter and not just a plot device that the main character has to work with. 

"No Child of Mine" finishes with an open ending. Gibbs makes it work without it seeming lazy. There are a lot of unanswered questions and given what the plot is rooted around, this is the right choice. The reader has to think about what could have happened. Is Tilly really going to be safe? Is the state going to change? Was it the right choice? 

This is what "No Child of Mine" is about. It doesn't provide any answers but wants to provoke thought. Heavily inspired by real life events, Gibbs manages to create an atmosphere that doesn't stray too far from reality in some cases. In the end, "No Child of Mine" is an astonishing read, especially considering that this is Gibbs’ first dabble in dystopian fiction.  

No Child of Mineby Olga Gibbs
Published2021by Raging Bear Publishing
Genres: dystopian Thriller
Add to your shelf on ... The StoryGraph GoodReads
Grab your copy at ... Amazon UKAmazon US
Content warnings:mild gore


Olga Gibbs is a mental health expert who has experience of working with disturbance in adolescent 
and young people. Using her Masters in Creative Writing, she explores taboo topics such as borderline personality and social effective disorder, effects of abuse and insecure attachment in young people and the inner world which is so rarely spoken about. She was born and raised in USSR and now lives in UK. Olga Gibbs is also a creative writing coach and mentor. Please visit author website www.OlgaGibbs.com for more information on upcoming books.

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  1. Thank you so much for this fab review and for supporting this tour! x

    1. thank you very much! And I am glad for the opportunity :)


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