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But there was a weird thing that happened that got my heart pumping about a possible twist coming, but instead, it turned out not to be true. It was a huge letdown, and I can think of a few ways that some dialog could have been written to avoid this letdown. I had some questions that were left unanswered--about Jordan's mom, about some of the Purists' involvements and questionable actions, and some other things that came out during the climax, but are never given any kind of explanation.

I think the sci-fi plot were simply a vehicle for the theology discussed in the book, which is why the plot was fairly weak. And for me, at least, some of the theology was weak too. Kestrel's brother, an atheist, asks her some very good questions about God, and her replies are the type I often see from the token "religious character" in TV or movies. She does go deeper than the stereotype sometimes, but I still found myself wishing for more. And very likely, this can all be chalked up to the author and me having different views on some theological aspects, which will certainly happen.

I just found myself very sad about Kestrel's brother's view of God, and wished her responses had been more fulfilling. In the end, I would recommend this book for those who are interested in the exploration of how humans approach God and the afterlife, and what it means to have a "soul," and understand that there is some sci-fi around that. I don't think I'd recommend this for readers of sci-fi, unless they are willing to wade through the theology.

One more thing that adds to my lower rating, which I almost forgot, was the way the story was told. As I mentioned above, it starts out in 2nd person "you" , then switches to 1st person out of the blue "I" , but is only 1st person when the perspective is on Kestrel.


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When it's on a plethora of other characters, it's 3rd person. And to make it even more confusing, when the perspective is on Jordan, it's 3rd person and present tense, when it's past tense the rest of the time. There's a reason jumping POVs, tenses, and even character perspectives is meant to be kept simple, and while it's not completely impossible to try something different I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Synapse Software

Oct 08, Jessica Higgins rated it it was amazing. Synapse is Steven James at his best! In his first futuristic thriller, he shows readers what an absolutely outstanding writer he truly is and why his books are a must read! Kestrel Hathaway has just experienced a horrible tragedy when her baby is born without taking a breath. As she leaves the hospital mourning her baby, she witnesses a terrorist attack that sends her world into a tailspin. In a world where Artificial Intelligence AI is advancing faster than ever before, Kestrel has never wanted to be a part it, especially after her parents were killed by an AI.

As she mourns the loss of her baby, she receives a gift from her brother, her own Artificial, Jordan. There is another terrorist attack looming and Kestrel begins working with Federal Counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon to figure out who is being targeted and how they can stop the attack. Jordan is not your normal Artificial, he starts asking questions normal Artificials have never asked before.

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With technology advancing so quickly along with the questions they raise, the world we once knew is not what we live in and we will never be the same because of it. Anyone who has ever read a Steven James book knows he is one of the very best! Tthe way he crafts a story is unlike any other. Synapse is no different. I had no trouble following along with this world and picturing myself right there with the characters. What was written in a little under pages could have been pushed to multiple novels and I would have gladly sat and devoured them all. And just like with every other novel he has written, readers will find plot twists at every turn and tension driving the story each step of the way.

With multiple viewpoints, readers will also get a full scope of what is happening without feeling lost. For someone who is not a fan of science fiction, I would happily read many more futuristic novels written by James and recommend them to anyone and everyone. I truly hope he will write a follow up or 10! If this is not your normal genre to read in, please do not let that stop you. This is worth the read and just might open your eyes to things you never thought about. I say this after every single Steven James book I read, but there are not nearly enough people reading his books and that needs to change.

If you want a fabulous story, no matter the genre, pick up a Steven James book and enjoy.

Book Spotlight: Synapse by Steven James – Faith Blum

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Sep 19, Bill Garrison rated it liked it. I have read all of Steven James' previous novels, and his Patrick Bowers series was some of the best novels I had ever read in terms of characterization, plotting, and suspense. First of all, the premise is very intriguing. Its 30 years in the future and technology has involved in a way that allows humans to live with robots called artificials.


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The robots are so advanced that they can be I have read all of Steven James' previous novels, and his Patrick Bowers series was some of the best novels I had ever read in terms of characterization, plotting, and suspense. The robots are so advanced that they can be indistinguishable from humans. The newest models can act just like humans in thought and emotion and logic, and they have even been given the possibility of their database continuing after they die in a technological afterlife.

Society is also filled with Plussers. These people willingly choose to have part of their body improved by an technological replacement. So one character could have fake arms that are super strong and another could have amazing hearing because of fake ears. This is the conflict underlying the entire novel.

What role should this type of technology play in the world.


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Kestrel Hathaway is a preacher. The book opens with her having a baby that dies at birth. Shortly thereafter, terrorists set of a bomb at a nearby artificial factory. Kestrel's brother Trevor works for Terabyne, the company behind creating the artificials. As a gift, Trevor gives Kestrel an artificial named Jordan who is very human in all ways. Soon Kestrel is thrust into a plot where there may be more bombings and she might have played a role in the bombing that she witnessed after her baby was born.

Why did I give this book only three stars?

How to write a NOVEL

For a futuristic novel James fails to adequately create a futuristic world for me to care about. The plot seems small, with just a few characters until the end when several bad guys show up to advance the plot. Also, there is really no concern or threat about what the bad guys may have planned because James doesn't focus on them. So much focus is on what happened in Cincinnati where Kestrel lives , and her growing relationship with Nick, that the conclusion really seems like it could have happened anywhere because it is just about resolving character plot points.

James does do a good job in framing some issues about God and what it means to believe by having an artificial learn about God and question if he can also believe. This struggle between humans, artificials, and the role of religion, God, and faith was the strength of the book in my opinion. As a main character Kestrel doesn't carry the novel well. The book opens with her giving birth in the hospital. How did she get pregnant? It is never discussed. Was it a boyfriend, a husband, an implant.

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I think that should have been part of the novel. Also since she is just a pastor, who really doesn't have a stake in investigating the events that drive the plot of the novel, so she is more bystander to the plot. We never feel like she is in danger. James' Bowers novels had amazingly intricate plots with villains written with just as much detail as the heroes. In this book, there is none of that depth, just a high concept and some good ideas that didn't have the room to get the attention they deserve. Aug 19, Brittany rated it it was amazing.

He gives you a lot to think about- spiritually, ethically, philosophically and technologically. Though not the main plot of the book, it started off with Kestrel's baby dying, which, having experienced miscarriage, struck a chord with me. I was not expecting that start to the book and was a little worried about continuing to read.

But James does a fantastic job incorporating and talking about such a hard topic. The thoughts and feelings his character has about it were exactly how I felt going He gives you a lot to think about- spiritually, ethically, philosophically and technologically.