The Loop

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Loop Book Poster Image
Teen prison inmates plan escape in intense sci-fi thriller.

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Loop is mainly a futuristic tale of survival, but it examines questions of morality and ethics. How should one treat somebody who has explicitly tried to do one harm?

Positive Messages

People from different backgrounds can work together for a common good. Persistence is usually rewarded. Compassion is needed in trying times.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonist, 16-year-old Luka Kane, starts the novel nearly beaten down by his incarceration on Death Row. But when he's given the chance to escape, his bravery and grit are revealed. He's forced to make tough choices, but he manages to keep his humanity even as he makes life-or-death decisions. The cast is ethnically diverse. Luka has dark skin, and the cyborg Altereds, known as Alts, are White.


Violence occurs often in the narrative. Luka faces a hoard of flesh-eating rats, swarms of homicidal zombies, and a mortal enemy who will do almost anything to kill him. A secondary character has her arm chopped off. When Luka and his companions are injured, they heal quickly, thanks to nanotechnology.


Luka seems to have romantic feelings for Wren, but they're never explicitly expressed.


As they fight for their lives, the characters swear frequently, with at least a dozen uses each of "s—t" and "f—k." "Bastard" and "a-hole" are employed a couple of times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters dose themselves with a chemical called Ebb, which induces vivid visions and is highly addictive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Loop is the first volume of a science fiction trilogy set in a futuristic prison for young people. Author Ben Oliver explores a possible future of the death penalty. The level of violence is often high, especially as16-year-old Luka and his allies fight off homicidal zombies and ravenous rats. There's frequent swearing ("s--t" and "f--k"), but little sexual content.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 16 years old Written bySomethingorrather February 17, 2021

It's ok

It's not worth three dollars
Teen, 16 years old Written byInigo Montoya October 16, 2020

The Ending Was the Best Part

I found another good debut author, which is so NOT what I needed. I have enough books I'm waiting for already, and here comes two more, since this is book... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of THE LOOP, Luka has become somewhat used to the daily routine as he awaits his day of execution. But then small things start to go wrong with the facility, and Luka's warden warns him to escape whenever the chance arises. When the daily system eventually breaks down, he joins a group of inmates who want to see what lies beyond the prison walls. Luka discovers war-torn chaos, and when he reports back to his allies he is determined to go back and save his family, if he can.

Is it any good?

Sometimes all an author needs is a good narrative hook, and this futuristic prison break thriller makes the most of its high-concept plotting. Author Ben Oliver wastes no time in starting the action in The Loop. Sometimes it seems like overkill (rats AND zombie grandmothers?), but there's plenty here to satisfy fans of futuristic horror. Tense, sarcastic, and sometimes heartbreaking, The Loop is an assured debut, one that will leave readers eager for the next volume.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Loop depicts capital punishment. Why do some people approve of the death penalty? Are innocent people ever convicted of crimes?

  • Characters in The Loop use the drug Ebb to escape reality. What are the dangers of using hallucinogens and narcotics? Should all drugs be made legal?

  • Aspects of The Loop are more like horror than science fiction. Can you think of other books, movies, or shows that blend the two genres?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and thrllers

Themes & Topics

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