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The Oxygen Wasters by L A Greyson
A casual drink with a childhood friend turns Eden Franks’ quiet San Francisco life upside down, and leads him on a fast paced dangerous quest to eliminate five “Oxygen Wasters” in order to save the lives of his own family. Nine thousand miles away, a Sri Lankan housemaid fights for her life after suffering horrific torture and sexual abuse at the hands of her sadistic employers. In the isolated sand dunes on the outskirts of Dubai, a Saudi Arabian couple are kidnapped and left to die in the scorching heat. The Oxygen Wasters tells the story of how these character’s paths overlap, and how easily the line between survival and revenge becomes blurred.
“The first skill is always the hardest.”
(-from The Oxygen Wasters)
This dramatic thriller caught my attention because of its intriguing angle, a select group of average, everyday citizens get ensnared into a deadly covert multi-government-run operation called “The Project” that forces them to become assassins of those deemed “oxygen wasters,” people declared unworthy to continue living because of their evil deeds and lack of respect for humanity.
The protagonist of the story is Eden Franks who meets his close family friend John over drinks one night. Little does he know that meeting will make him question his ethics and values, prove his loyalty, and commit murder in the name of justice to save the lives of those he loves.
Do you remember the days of dreaded chain letters? You receive a copy of a letter from a good friend who passed it on to you in the hopes of having future good luck or, as I can remember, to avoid falling under the letter’s curse.
Once you have the letter, you have to decide what to do with it. Do you just ball it up, throw it away, and forget about it, thinking you won’t have any bad luck for ignoring the demand to send it on to a designated number of friends? Or do you invest the effort into passing it on to your friends in the hopes that the letter will continue its journey and all those involved will benefit in some way? “The Project” operates in a similar manner, except the stakes are much, much higher with deadly consequences for those who fail to fulfill their obligations within a specified time frame.
John has passed the metaphorical chain letter to Eden. Eden must become an assassin and eliminate five people whose heinous crimes have gone unpunished. Eden is an everyday, average citizen, successful businessman, husband, and father. He could be your colleague, your neighbor, or even worse…your friend. John has just put the fate of his family and himself in Eden’s hands. If Eden fails to eliminate five targets within one year, then someone in John’s family will be executed. This looming threat serves to ensure the continuation of the program and its secrecy.
I was a bit surprised at the process used to target someone. Eden isn’t just given a list of names; he actually has to select a person that he deems unfit to live any longer. However, he must have his choice approved by “The Project’s” secret board before he can proceed with the assassination.
Eden also has to choose the method of for the kill as well. It’s quite interesting to see his thought process as he makes these decisions.
The storyline surprised me as well. I had thought more of the story would revolve around Eden’s journey to complete the mission and the inner turmoil and anguish he experiences. Instead, however, much of the book centers on the “oxygen wasters” and their victims. Eden selects candidates from third world countries (Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bangkok) and travels across the world to find his approved targets. Greyson immerses readers into these foreign cultures and provides a glimpse into the suffering of those who live in poverty and the difficult choices they make to survive.
Greyson has created villains who are easy to despise and pass judgment upon, and sympathetic victims who endure horrendous abuse.
At times, I was uncomfortable reading about these violent acts. These scenes aren’t described in explicit detail but have enough description to make it easy to imagine.
The antagonists were one-dimensional evil, stock characters with no redeeming qualities. In fact, some of these characters and their actions were, at times, too far-fetched for me to accept.
I think the story’s plot would have been stronger if Eden’s played a more dominant role in the story. Too many POVs caused disruptions to the flow of the story and caught me off guard. The book could have used one more round of editing, but the errors really didn’t hinder my reading experience.
I like that Greyson left the conclusion of the book open for a sequel, and I appreciate the thought provoking ideas about morality and ethics that are raised in this story.
This debut novel shows a promising start to a possible series.
I received a copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.
About the Author
I enjoy learning about new cultures, exploring new places, and have visited 79 countries so far, but have quite a few more still on my wish list.
I have worked in the field of Human Resources for over 20 years, primarily working with large US corporations with international offices. I hold a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Development from Brigham Young University – Hawaii.
Working in the corporate world, global traveling, world cultures, and current news events all largely impact my life, and greatly influence my writing.
The Oxygen Wasters is my debut novel.