Rating: 4 stars out of 5* with notations
In a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.
Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.
Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.
But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.
And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.
Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.
If there was ever a book I could divide up and give different ratings to, it would be Countermind. Its taken me a while to decide how exactly to approach this review because I have such mixed emotions over this story. If I had my druthers, the ratings would look something like this:
Rating: 2.5 stars for 50 percent of the book
Rating: 5 stars for the remaining 50 percent of the book
And that changes as I remember different parts, both good and bad. Sometimes its 60/40 or 40/60. Or even 30/70. Really, this book confounds me.
Most of the lower ratings would come at the beginning, and yes, the middle as well. The fragmented narrative, even from present day to future, from character to character (s) in the plot timeline was confusing at best, incoherent at its worst. It was like getting snatches of plot and people only to be thrown into another situation entirely. Jarring doesn’t begin to describe how a reader feels. Its so densely packed with information and plot threads that its overwhelming and the leaping here and there only serves to make a reader lose track of what has just been laid out in the short previous section. Really, I started taking notes.
But I plugged along as this was an ARC I’d been given (and I’ve never had a DNF yet) and a funny thing happened. Randall abandoned his broken storytelling, the narrative became linear and Countermind evolved into the story it could have been all along. It turns into an masterful tale of suspense, an alternative universe where psychics are sought because they are regarded as both dangerous to the States as well as a highly regarded commodity or tool for the government to use depending upon their personality. Randall also brings all those previously unconnected or loosely connected puzzle pieces together and locks them into the drama so now we are firmly invested in these characters futures (if they have any) and the next precarious, breath-taking turn of the page.
Why oh why didn’t this happen sooner?
I can understand if the author didn’t want us to connect the dots early on but surely there was another way of doing it other than frustrating the heck out of a reader and making the book as disjointed as this was in the beginning.
Even at the end, the author just can’t leave things alone. Unless, Randall is planning on this being a series which is possible. There is that whole thing about Korea and….no, I won’t go there. But I thought that was more than a tad absurd too. Damn, forgot about Korea. Should have cut that out altogether, unless of course, there’s a sequel coming. Wouldn’t surprise me at all. See what I mean about this story? Shakes head.
What to tell you. Well the great bits about this story are just that…really great. Mind-bending, suspenseful, hold your breath, just loved it great! And the stuff I found absurd, dense, and fragmented? Bad enough to make you not want to plow further into the story. But I found it worth it. It all depends upon if you like this genre enough to want to read Countermind. If you do, tell me what you think. I’m truly interested.
Cover art by L.C. Chase is terrific. Works great for the character and storyline.
ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1635332699 (ISBN13: 9781635332698)