May 11, 2013
Book review: Placebo by Steven James
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While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons' tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did.
Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Last year, I read the first two books of Steven James's Bowers Files series, The Pawn and The Rook, and liked them both, so when I saw that he had a new book out that wasn't part of the series, I wanted to check it out. Placebo is the first book in the Jevin Banks series. Jevin Banks is a magician who is tormented by the death of his wife and twin sons. He gave up his career as a successful stage magician to produce a TV show debunking psychics and other seemingly paranormal phenomenon.
This book starts with Banks looking into a claim of human connectivity arising from quantum entanglement. As part of his team's investigation, they stumble upon a larger, more sinister plot. I found the premise interesting, hoping that the author would delve more into the physics of the communication between people who are separated by distance. As a thriller, Placebo starts off well, but once the plot unfolds, the story becomes less realistic and less interesting. I was somewhat disappointed with what the ultimate conspiracy involved. If I was in the bad guys' shoes, I'd look for a much simpler means of achieving my goals than the one they chose in the book.
I should also note that the book is written in two different points of view. When a scene focuses on Jevin Banks, the story is told in first person POV by Banks. However, when the action shifts to other characters, the author changes to a third person point of view. I found the POV changes to be jarring at times, distracting from the flow. However, when there was a long stretch from Banks's POV, I found the story to be engaging. The novel would've worked better if it stayed in first person throughout.
Overall, this book is worth 3.5 or 4 stars. It was good, but not as good as the Bowers Files novels I've read.
I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: Epic by Conor Kostick.