The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

A dystopian sci-fi novel that is far too close to reality for comfort….

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A pandemic sweeps through the US during which quarantines are mandated. Neither the living or the dead are allowed to leave. There are people trapped in towers who are both stir-crazy and lonely. Metis, a tech company, comes to the rescue with “companions.” Download the brain with all of its electrical currents, memories, and emotions, into a robotic body – some with skin for a more human like touch. These creations are pre-programmed not to harm or do violence and to operate only at the command of their human. One such “companion” – Lilac – goes off track when she learns that she is to be scrapped. Setting out on her own, she is in search of the person who murdered her human form.

Admittedly, this one of the strangest pieces of fiction that I’ve read in a long time. When I began reading I wasn’t sure if I liked it or would finish the book. But then I became invested in Lilac as she hops from body to body. We’re then introduced to more characters, some human and some are companions. Each of the stories seemed to be unrelated – until they weren’t. Going further into the book I realized that each of these “stories” was interconnected and relevant to the others. By the end of the book, I was all in and couldn’t believe how it ended, or possibly I knew how it would end before I even began reading.

What was so startling about The Companions is on this day, as I finished reading and am now writing this review, I’m listening on the news about quarantines being set up all over the world on the brink of what could be the early days of a Pandemic. In tandem, there is tech news about the first fully functioning AI who is frighteningly quite human. In light of those things, The Companions seemed more current events than “sci-fi.”

This is NOT a book for everyone. It is, however, one of the best dystopian tales that I’ve read in ages. It’s also a great sci-fi experience that does not involve other galaxies, fantasy or world building. If you do not like dystopian fiction or science fiction, then you will not enjoy this book. However, if you like new, different, quirky, dark reads then I can recommend The Companions 100%.

Thank you to @Netgalley, the author and #GalleryScoutPress for my ARC of The Companions.

The Psychology of Time Travel #Kate Mascarenhas – #PublicationDay

The Past, Present and Future collide in Kate Mascarenhas’ brilliant debut book, The Psychology of Time Travel. 

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I love and adore the concept of time travel. Thinking about the books and movies that I grew up with, some of my favorites included The Time Machine, Star Trek, Back to the Future and, of course, the cult classic, Somewhere in Time. Today we have books like Outlander that take us back and forth in time and our concept of time and relativity has grown more fluid over the past few decades. So, naturally, when I saw this book, I just had to grab it up and read it. And I loved it!

The Psychology of Time Travel begins with the story of the pioneers of human time travel who, quite wonderfully, are four female scientists. In fact, the entire book is magnificently woman powered and it is one of the aspects of the book that I found so marvelous! As we transition into the second phase of the book, the present, we find that one of the pioneers is now an old woman who is with her granddaughter. They receive a mysterious post regarding a death that will happen in the future – which, of course, leads us to the future section of the book where the murder will take place. From there the book has a fluid timeline as the characters attempt to solve the crime – or stop it from happening – either in the present or future or, for some, in the past. Confused yet? Yes, there are times that the back and forth in time does get a bit mind boggling, but the story itself is one of mystery and crime and that is what makes the book so fascinating. It’s a detective story set in time – or space – or in the time warp continuum. Hmmm. It’s like Dr. Who meets Hidden Figures.

When you’re a time traveler, the people you love die, and you carry on seeing them, so their death stops making a difference to you. The only death that will ever change things is your own.

This is, by far, my favorite passage in the entire book and, I think, it is one of the reasons that I find time travel so intriguing. Since the beginning of time, mankind has been curious about what happens after death but what if this is what happens? We are simply transported to a different time, a different place. Perhaps time, and life, and our souls are merely traveling from place to another. It’s not too unreasonable to imagine – if you dare. 😉

I suspect there are those who will say that they don’t read books like this and that’s okay. This definitely was a book for me and I enjoyed it a LOT! I hope some of the skeptics out there will at least give it a look, I think you will like it if you do.

Thank you to the author, #Netgalley and #CrookedLaneBooks for my copy of #ThePsychologyofTimeTravel.

Sunlight 24 @merritt_graves

A genre that I’ve lately found intriguing is “near-future” fiction. It’s not always dystopian in nature, nor does it fall into the realm of sci-fi, or perhaps it does. Regardless, I like books that take an event or scenario happening currently and run it to its natural conclusion. If you think about it, that is basically what Orwell did with 1984, or was done in Brave New World. The authors viewed the effects of the Industrial Revolution and allowed their imagination to see the ultimate end-game: and they were too accurate for comfort. Sunlight 24, a young adult/new adult thriller, does exactly this using nanotechnology and gene splicing as well nootropic supplements and their effects on the human brain. (see this link if you are not familiar with nootropics)

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Sunlight 24 is a fast paced, roller coaster ride and one heckuva a great read! Set in the near future, in a world where the climate and robots have completely altered the daily lives of humans, man has found ways of making themselves less redundant: Revision. Simply put, they are altering their DNA using gene therapy, nano-bots and nootropics to make themselves faster, stronger, and definitely smarter. The drawback is that only the most wealthy can afford these “revisions,” creating a world where the haves and have-nots are clearly separated with only the “haves” succeeding. Enter Dorian whose family is barely getting by and cannot afford revision. Without revision, Dorian cannot get into a good university and without a degree in Nano-technology, he will be shackled forever by his limitations. But, Dorian has a plan to steal from the wealthy in order to afford smaller increments of revision. Each revision influences his next choice of revision until, ultimately, he realizes he is losing a bit of his own self, what makes him Dorian. He also does not suspect that his brother, a psychopath, is doing the same revisions as Dorian, also funded by nefarious means. The ultimate conclusion is explosive – literally – as well an eye opening look at the monster we are creating.

Merritt Graves, author of the cult thriller “Lake of Mars,” has created a brilliant look at the future where genetic mutation and nootropics rule the day. As someone who already takes nootropic drugs, I found the ultimate conclusion of this book to be frightening as well as enlightening. In the end, I was questioning what we already are doing, what we could do and what will remain of our own humanity when we do. If this sounds confusing, it isn’t really. Graves is a masterful story teller and, although the tale became a little over the top toward the end, Graves deftly keeps the story on track to its horrifying conclusion.

Admittedly, the book is a little too long and could use a good bit of editing. There were times when I felt parts of the story weren’t necessary to the overall story-line. It also helps to remember that this is told from a high-schooler’s point of view because it is a young adult thriller. As such, you aren’t going to get the thoughts and concerns of the parents, teachers, scientists, etc. This is, ultimately, Dorian’s story and is told from his point of view only. That didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book in the least and I heartily recommend it for those who enjoy this type of genre.

Thank you to #Netgalley #merrittgraves for my copy of Sunlight 24.