What readers think of Underground Airlines, plus links to write your own review.

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Underground Airlines

by Ben H. Winters

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters X
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2016, 336 pages

    Jul 2017, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley
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There are currently 27 reader reviews for Underground Airlines
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Power Reviewer
Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

Something for everyone
Having read the Last Policeman books, I was curious what genres Winters would employ in this new work. Alternative history (please can't call it sci fi), noir antihero adventure, suspense all cooked together into a tasty stew not over-seasoned by message.
Sharon P. (San Diego, CA)

Very good - but something missing for me
This has all the makings of a superb book. The subject is fascinating, the writing is perfect, and I love a controversial topic. But I couldn't gain enough traction with the main character to compel me forward. I read it and really liked it, but I personally needed more backstory upfront since imagining this world took some getting used to. However, I do highly recommend it and I'm sure it will stick with for quite awhile.
Diane C. (Gainesville, FL)

Alternate history?
A black man earns his freedom by making a deal with the devil in this present day thriller, built on the premise that slavery still exists in parts of the United States. Victor, as we know him, is an expert at retrieving runaway slaves and other persons wanted by the federal government. He's seen a lot of tragedy and violence; his heart is well-armored. But his instincts are keen, and in his latest assignment, Victor's instincts are on high alert.

In many ways, the novel plays out like an espionage thriller, with twists and double-crossing that keep the reader well engaged. But the setting infuses an element of social injustice that is still too familiar. Here is a United States that was never divided by the issue of slavery. In four states, people are still considered the property of plantation owners and the like. And although there is abolitionist outrage, many Americans accept that this is the law. The "institution" is so solidly entrenched that it seems little more than an unfortunate consequence of capitalism.

Which begs the question, how much of our present society is accepted in the same spirit? For some readers, this will seem less like an alternate history than an allegory, a portrayal of racism that is but nominally distinct from the institution of slavery.
Mary Ann B. (Louisville, KY)

Underground Airlines
What if ? It's always an intriguing thought when it comes to history, and Underground Airlines gives us a glimpse of that thought. The book is set in the present day United States, and slavery was never abolished. We see what this world is like through the main character, Victor. It's world full of unease and fear for a person of color even in the "free states"
I enjoyed the book, and its intrigue. It is a combination of alternate history/ crime/mystery/suspense, and Victor must decide what he can will do to live the life he wants.
Poornima A. (Walpole, MA)

What would slavery have looked like?
In this dystopian version of contemporary America, the Civil War never happened and slavery continues in full force in four states in the Deep South, fueling its powerful economic engine. The Underground Airlines is the modern-day version of the underground railroad, through which an occasional slave might get away but thanks to people like "Victor," the protagonist, their freedom is short-lived. Victor has traded his freedom to become a bounty hunter, returning escapees to the South so he can live free in the North, or as "free" as his employers will let him. One particular case tests his conscience and propels him to travel to the Deep South to unravel the very secrets the Slave States are based on. The novel's pace is swift and cinematic but this comes at a cost: Explanations are made on the fly, at least initially. As Victor strikes various bargains to win his own freedom, it is also often unclear who is on which side of the fence. Nevertheless, Underground Airlines is a remarkable portrait of slavery taken to its horrific extreme -- it is a stark reminder of the excesses of capitalism. Whether it is a giant clothing goods corporation in Alabama or the many characters in this captivating novel, the primary motivator underlying most actions is invariably...greed.
Eileen F. (Drexel Hill, PA)

State of the Union
Intriguing idea of U.S. with no Civil War. Abolitionists who fight the system with cell phones and electronic trackers. The story took off well and got a somewhat bogged down in the middle but the premise and the characters propelled me forward. Loved the The Last Policeman series and I will keep watching for more from Mr. Winters.
Power Reviewer
Julie M. (Golden Valley, MN)

Alternate History Story
I thought the concept was good and the alternate history idea was intriguing to me which is why I wanted to read it in the first place. I felt the flashbacks to Castle's past were hard to follow and I didn't feel sold on the concept of the Civil War never happening nor did I feel much emotion for the main character. The ending suggests or leaves the avenue open for a sequel, but I doubt it will make my TBR pile.
Anne (Huntingburg, IN.)

When I saw this book in the First Impressions list, I was very interested in the plot. It should have been interesting, however, I found it very difficult to read. I couldn't connect with the characters and I really didn't care for the writing style. The author didn't really explain how society functioned or why certain things were the way they were. I can't recommend this book.

Beyond the Book:
  The Underground Railroad

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