When I finished reading Steven James’ novel Placebo before Christmas last year, I said I’d pick up the next novel just to meet Jevin, Charlene, Fionna, and Xavier again. That’s what I did this month. Singularity takes illusionist Jevin Banks and his friends on a new adventure as they search for the man responsible for the death of their friend Emilio.
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Emilio was an illusionist like Jevin. Singularity opens with all of them in Mexico, videoing Emilio’s escape from a buried coffin filled with cobras. When the escape goes wrong, Jevin attempts to run down the assassin. Then he flies home to continue the chase in Las Vegas.
All they have for evidence is a USB drive Emilio had with him when he died. When Fionna and her sons manage to hack the USB, it leads to more questions—questions about a government area that doesn’t exist, which Xavier has been watching for years.
Once again, it was the characters who pulled me into the story and often made me smile. Xavier continues to learn more about homeschooling from Fionna (whom he has a crush on) and her children, who explain why they don’t read classics and wow FBI agents with their computer skills. We get a glimpse of Jevin’s stage show in Las Vegas and see him use his abilities as a magician to best the bad guys. Xavier might be obsessed with UFOs and conspiracy theories, but he has the information needed to answer some deep questions that come up in their search.
However, I found some parts of this novel dark. Too many secondary characters died at the hands of Akinsanya. He’s a completely evil, heartless bad guy (and I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was glad to see what happened to him at the end). However, some of his associates did have good sides (which I found more intriguing and realistic). It was disappointing to see them not succeed. Perhaps this is just because I don’t read many thrillers or wasn’t in the mood for torture scenes.
As with Placebo, Steven manages to explore some big themes in this novel. Scientific research is attempting to find ways to prevent aging. Akinsanya wants the power to stay young forever. The work with robotics leads to questions about what makes us human and what happens when computers are smarter than people. It made me think of the movies Avatar (a human mentally controlling a different body) or I, Robot (when a robot becomes more human than robot).
If you like thrillers, check out Steven’s blog for more information about Singularity, including an interview with Penguin about The Bishop (which is a series of books I’d read just because I think the titles are cool). If you’re a writer, Steven has some articles and handouts on his website as well.
Steven James is the author of over thirty books, including the Patrick Bowers thriller series. He has a master’s degree in storytelling and has taught writing and creative communication around the world. He also enjoys trail running, rock climbing, and a good cup of coffee.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.