Monday, February 16, 2009

The Electric Church

The Electric Church
By: Jeff Somers
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Language: English
September 2007, $12.99
Genre: Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk

Avery Cates is a very bad man. Some might call him a criminal. He might even be a killer - for the Right Price. But right now, Avery Cates is scared. He's up against the Monks: cyborgs with human brains, enhanced robotic bodies, and a small arsenal of advanced weaponry. Their mission is to convert anyone and everyone to the Electric Church. But there is just one snag. Conversion means death.

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I don’t read a whole lot of sci-fi, but I’d had this sitting in my TBR pile and Carl’s Sci-Fi Experience challenge finally got me to pick it up. My sister and brother in law sang its praise when they read it a while back and I can see why. It’s a great book. Call it a combination of a Cybermen episode of Doctor Who and Blade Runner except where the Cybermen are far creepier and your hero is a professional killer who you shouldn’t like at all, but wind up rooting for him anyway.

Avery Cates may be a bad man, but the brutal police force that keeps order in this dystopian world seems just as bad. When he kills one of the elite brute squad instead of being thrown to the firing squad he gets hired to take out Dennis Squalor, leader of the Electric Church. Don’t think the church is scary with its promises of immortality and redemption. You should. See, you have to die in order to become a member and sometimes you are converted without your approval. So imagine being locked away forever screaming, forever wanting it all to end, but stuck in a cyborg body. Not a fun day at the park. In fact, there is one scene in the book where we see where getting religion can be insanely disturbing and scary. Commentary on religion? Maybe just a bit.

I thought the pacing was great, the first person narrative worked and it didn’t take itself too seriously. I also didn’t have to sift through a bunch of techo babble which was nice. The characters that surround Cates are just as fun to hate and hate to love as our lead don’t call me a hero if you want to live is. None of the characters are people I would want to meet in real life. Even the cops are bad guys. Cates is the lesser evil, but like Hannibal Lecter you cant help but like him just a bit.

The book has its flaws. The dialogue could be honed a little and prose expanded a bit, what can I say I love words, but on the whole it was a fun and fast read. In fact, I cant wait to start reading Digital Plague. I was never bored with this one and I don’t imagine that the second one will be a disappointment either.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.

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