The Block by Ben Oliver

Luka is in prison again – but this time it’s worse.

He’s in the Block, a place where reality and simulation start to blur. But an audacious breakout reunites Luka and his friends at last. Hiding out in the heart of the destroyed city, Luka realises the scale of their mission to defeat all-powerful AI, Happy. How can they stay hidden, let alone win the war? Old friends and new – including annoyingly cheerful companion drone, Apple-Moth – hold the key to their slim chance of victory …

The sequel to acclaimed debut The Loop: Prison Break meets 1984 in this cutting-edge sci-fi thriller series.

Chicken House Books

I finished reading a proof of The Loop on a train on the way to the last live Chicken House Breakfast event in Jan2020 and excitedly got Ben Oliver to sign it at the event – it is one of the best sci-fi (dare I say, dystopian) YA novels I’ve read for years – so I was really excited to be offered a spot on the blog tour for the equally thrilling sequel: The Block. Ben has written a bit about the inspiration for the series:


The Loop was the fifth full-length novel I had written, and straight away it felt different. It felt as though I was writing the book I really wanted to write. I had learned from my mistakes in previous books, I had developed as a writer and now I had the tools to write the kind of book I wanted to read. The inspiration to write this series came from the desire to write the type of book I would love to have read when I was fourteen, and I felt like that’s what I’m doing when I’m writing – I’m trying to write for myself when I was fourteen (don’t get me wrong, I still love these books as a 35 year old, but books meant the world to me when I was in high school).

As for the concept of the book (kids breaking out of a futuristic death-row prison), that idea came from … well, nowhere, really. I know that’s a bit of a disappointing answer, but it’s the truth. I wasn’t researching the prison system at the time, I wasn’t watching a documentary about death row – the idea just popped into my head one day, and that’s where it stayed for about a year, slowly developing into a plot, characters appearing, twists and turns materialising. And one day I sat down and started writing, and – like I said – straight away it felt different from what I had written before, and that sense of excitement, that sense that I was writing something really good was as much an inspiration to keep going as anything else.

I think Neil Gaiman put it best when he was asked about where he gets his inspiration and ideas from – I’m probably misquoting, but he said something like, ‘Ideas comes from a lot of different places, but mainly from daydreaming. I suspect it’s something that every human being does, but writers train themselves to notice when they’ve had an idea.’

The writing of The Loop happened very quickly – once the idea was ready to go, I was getting somewhere between two and four thousand words a day (looking back, I have no idea how as I was working full time and studying to get my teaching qualification). Writing the sequel to The Loop; The Block was a different experience. I’d never written a sequel before and I learned very quickly that it’s a whole new skill! I’m so grateful that I had my agent and editor there to keep me on track and to proof-read and make suggestions. It took a lot longer, but The Block is even better than The Loop in my opinion.

THE LOOP and THE BLOCK by Ben Oliver are out now, each priced £7.99. Read chapter 1 of THE LOOP here

Thanks to Chicken House for a review copy!

About Caroline Fielding

Chartered School Librarian, CILIP YLG London Chair, Bea-keeper

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation