About Recluse. What did you mean by dense? Hard for me to find a link with it, but the first book really doesn't due the later ones justice, save the last four or five. (Slow as fuck). Personally, the first five were the best, the later ones being slow in pacing. I'd suggest trying the second, but I think several parts would be confusing because the author had yet to figure out how to imply things better than with just vague sentences.
Loan wise, in the UK the rate you pay back is linked to your earnings, so it's never out of control. Before £15k/year you don't pay anything at all. So it's like an extra progressive tax you pay, until it's paid back. And if it's not paid back by the time you're 50, it's wiped anyway. And interest is at the rate of inflation only, so in real terms there's no increase.