Hello, good people, and welcome to my very first ever Book Review. Most of you will know me as the Survivor guy, but I was lucky enough to be a Beta reader for an exciting new book series by an up and coming new author. So, check out the review and if it sounds like something you would be into, check it out. It's a lot of fun! And with that...
Book Review: Waivering Minds: A Brainwaiver Novel
By Jim Van Nest
January 28, 2016
What would you do to improve your life? What lengths would you go to to help your children? Would you have surgery to "be prettier?" Would you give your child medicine to calm them down? Would you implant yourself or your child with a small micro-chip if the results were enhanced performance on the job or a cure for your child's Autism? And what would you do and what lengths would you go to if the controls of that micro-chip fell into the wrong hands?
These thoughts are the central story line for a fresh new book series by newcomer Chantay M. James. The book is titled Waivering Minds: A Brainwaiver Novel and no, those are not typos. One of the focal points of this novel is the Brainwaiver micro-chip and mobile app. With a quick outpatient procedure, you can receive a Brainwaiver chip in your brain and your future just opens up to you. Want to quit smoking? Pull up your Brainwiaver App on your phone and push a button. The chip will activate the part of your brain that helps cure addiction and tame withdrawal. With huge success rates in that as well as weight loss, athletic ability and the ability to help correct development issues and learning disabilities, one can see where technology such as this would be in high demand. The only problem with technology like this is someone, somewhere has the power to control it.
Our story centers around Celine Baltimore, a Social Worker from Alton who specializes in working with children. She is working with two sisters, one of whom is Autistic and has the Brainwaiver implant. The story really kicks in when Celine receives word that she has won a contest to receive a free Brainwaiver implant ( a contest she didn't enter) and the sisters come up missing. We come to find out that these things are related, and that the Brainwaiver chip and App are quite a bit more than advertised. As you would expect, if someone has written the program and has implanted the chip, chances are that they have some sort of control over your chip as well. As more kids come up missing, Celine joins forces with the father of one of the missing kids (Enoch 'Sam' Sampson) who happens to be a former Special Forces Marine on a quest to find the children and bring them home safe.
The story is told in the first person and jumps from character to character. What I find neat about it is that there is a distinct tone to each character. For instance, you can tell that Celine is funny, silly and a strong believer in God. Meanwhile, Enoch is a Marine. He's much more serious and believes more in "his guys" than anything else.
There is a huge and instant attraction between the two main characters and the inner thoughts of our main characters provide quite a bit of humor. Suffice it to say that this isn't a romantic story at all. It's much more sci-fi chick flicky romance than anything else. When talking Marine Special Forces and kidnapped kids, you can expect some violence, but none of it is gratuitous or graphic. It's mostly training and fighting as the team prepares for the unknown.
As I mentioned, the book is very funny, as the character of Celine has some great conversations in her own head. She tries to balance being a very strong woman who doesn't appreciate being lied to or taken advantage of, but wants to remain a "good Christian." And in that regard, the book does have an undertone of religion and belief in God running through it, but it doesn't pound you over the head with it. In fact, it's the opposite. It treats religion more the way the bulk of Christians treat it, I think. A lot of people only call on God when they need Him and when things are good, He's easily pushed to the background while life happens.
One of the things I enjoyed about the book is the growth narrative of the characters as they come to terms with inner demons and their own faith. They start off miles apart and both find their way to start growing together on many fronts. All of this aside - the growth, the religion and everything else, Waivering Minds is, at its core, a cool little science fiction novel. At the end of the day, you have an incredible piece of technology in the wrong hands and you have some good people trying to stop them.
Once the scene is set, James keeps the novel moving briskly and doesn't really let up until the Epilogue. Switching from character to character to get their sides of the same situations really works here and helps with the motivations of the characters as well as the humor in the book. Enoch's way of seeing a situation never matches Celine's and that creates some of the more hilarious moments.
All in all, Waivering Minds is a fantastic idea and is a well written early career novel (I can't say first novel as she has others, but I think it's one of her biggest). While this book has a definite ending - she's not leaving you on some crazy cliffhanger - this story is far from over and I'm really looking forward to re-entering James' Brainwaiver world with Book 2. I had the chance to sit down with her and discuss this book as well as get her plans for the series and I have to tell you, it sounds like it's going to be a wild and funny ride. If you'd like to join me on the ride, you can go right to Amazon and pick up your copy of Waivering Minds: A Brainwaiver Novel!