The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone (Book Review)

Ezekiel Boone is the writer of The Hatching Trilogy, and if you’re interested you can read my reviews of these books via the following links:

Book 1 – The Hatching

Book 2 – Skitter

Book 3 – Zero Day

 

The Mansion is his stand-alone science-fiction horror techno-thriller, which merges artificial intelligence with an old-school haunted house story. With a creepy location reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel, and a sinister AI technology, this book comes across as a mix of Stephen King horror and a Michael Crichton thriller.

 

With his marriage on a precariously balanced tipping point, debts up his eye-balls and substance abuse issues, life has taken a turn for the worst for Billy Stafford. But when his old multi-billionaire pal Shawn Eagle calls him with an offer he can’t refuse, things brighten up for Billy and his wife, Emily.

Nellie, an AI program first developed by Billy and Shawn shortly after graduating University, had been shelved after the boys parted ways. But now, years later Shawn’s made giant leaps in the programming and technology world, and finally brought Nellie to life. However, she currently has some issues. So Shawn invites Billy and Emily to his renovated Mansion, so that Billy can test drive and fine tune Nellie’s programming.

 

The vast majority of this book has numerous similarities to The Shining by Stephen King, everything from the location, to the weather, to character personalities, and even the writing style and plot. It’s almost a re-write of that novel coupled with the typical stereotypes found in stories such as this: Alcoholic father, beats wife, beats kids, kids grow-up with issues and go on to become alcoholics who beat their kids etc. ad nauseam, but with some AI and sci-fi thrown in, and not forgetting the all-important love-triangle. Despite this, and probably because of it, I really enjoyed the beginning of The Mansion. However, I got a little bored through the middle when the story began to feel stretched out, with very little of importance happening.

I was hoping for more of a horror feel to The Mansion and while there are a few horror elements, unfortunately the story is primarily techno-thriller. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this genre, or indeed of the premise of self-driving cars, despite them now becoming a reality and not just a figment of sci-fi imagination, and I always found myself squirming in discomfort every time the characters got behind the wheel of such a vehicle.

At 2 out of 5 stars I’d say the overall concept is mediocre, the AI aspects intriguing, but with all the similarities to The Shining I thought there was a lack of uniqueness to the plot which lets this book down terribly. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Shining as a novel, and also enjoy techno-thrillers then you might appreciate the base concept behind The Mansion. However, be forewarned that once you pass the initial set-up and scene setting, the plot becomes slow and laboured for a long time before finally reaching its conclusion. I really wanted to love this book, but it dragged on so long in never-ending ways, with large chunks of time where absolutely nothing happens.     

 

See also:

The Hatching

Skitter

Zero Day

When Tomorrow Calls: Book 2 – Why You Were Taken (Book Review)

After enjoying The Sigma Surrogate, JT Lawrence’s prequel novella to the When Tomorrow Calls series, I decided to check out the next book which continues the story.

The Sigma Surrogate was featured in The Uprising Boxset, a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures and you can check out my review of that book here.

While The Sigma Surrogate focused mainly on Keke, Why You Were Taken is concerned with Keke’s bestfriend Kirsten. Kirsten and her partner James want to have a child, but in 2021 Johannesburg there is an infertility crisis and Kirsten is having trouble conceiving. Following on from the previous book, Kirsten is keen to discover the reasons for her infertility, as well as the truth behind the death of her parents. While researching her family history she uncovers a shocking government conspiracy, and gets more than she bargains for when the truth is finally revealed.

 

I was extremely disappointed in this novel for a number of reasons:

  1. The excessive use of swear words, especially since the vast majority of occurrences seemed unnecessary.
  2. The difficult to understand cyber chat sequences. The abbreviated chat language made some of these portions of the text confusing and really hard to follow. However, once I adjusted to the shorthand language being used this eventually made more sense.
  3. The constant need to pause the narrative to explain the colours of objects. This is due to Kirsten’s synaesthesia, a neurological condition that results in her seeing the world in varying shades of colours. This became very repetitive and annoying, and it didn’t add much to the overall story.

 

I initially had high hopes that Why You Were Taken would be an engrossing technothriller that would continue on in the same suspenseful, fast-paced manner as its predecessor. However, I didn’t click with any of these characters and came close to giving up reading on a number of occasions. I didn’t care much for the story and with only 2 out of 5 stars, I now can’t see myself reading any more from JT Lawrence.

 

See also:

When Tomorrow Calls: Book 1 – The Sigma Surrogate

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Sigma Surrogate (ARC Review)

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

First up is The Sigma Surrogate, part one in the When Tomorrow Calls series from JT Lawrence. It is the year 2021, and less than 1% of the population is fertile. To compensate, the SurroTribe was born. Young fertile girls are initiated into the program to become surrogates, and carry the next generation of children.

The book begins with Joni, a young pregnant surrogate attacked within the supposedly impregnable walls of the SurroTribe complex. But why would anyone want to harm someone in the surrogate program, one of the most revered communities in the world, and those who hold the future of the human population in their very hands? This is exactly what sexy, biopunk journalist, Keke sets out to uncover.

 

I found The Sigma Surrogate to be a surprisingly good suspense technothriller novel, so much so that I couldn’t stop reading it. I finished this book in one sitting, and can’t wait to read more. There are three other books currently available in the When Tomorrow Calls series from JT Lawrence, and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of these books.

Being the first in a series, The Sigma Surrogate is actually more of a novella sized prequel to a larger story, and it does a great job of introducing us to the main aspects and characters that will appear in later novels. The characters are relatable, and the story draws you in right from the start.

However, I feel that this book is for a mature audience, with occasional curse words and a ridiculous amount of romance and scenes of an adult nature. I wasn’t too keen on the amount of romance that was contained within this story, but that’s just due to my own personal tastes as it’s a genre that I generally avoid. I did enjoy the main story, and I’m not going to let this stop me from reading more from JT Lawrence, provided she can keep the romance to a minimum.

 

So far, the Uprising boxset appears to have been professionally edited as there were no major errors, which is a huge relief, making this anthology a delight to read so far at 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

See also:

Book 2: The Given – Colby R. Rice

Book 3: Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

Book 4: The Girl In The City – Philip Harris

Book 5: Watcher – A.J. Eversley