Author: Adrian Randall
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 286 Pages
Category: Paranormal, Science Fiction
At a Glance: I’m not even sure how to talk about this book, but if you like thriller/spec fic/conspiracy mixed in with your Sci Fi, this book is 100% for you.
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: 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.
Review: I admit I’m not really sure where to even begin talking about this book. It’s so different than anything I’ve read recently, and I’m honestly not even able to articulate whether or not I liked it. It kind of ended up being bigger than like or dislike for me. So, in no particular order, let me tick off a few general thoughts I had while reading Countermind, then try to sum up a bit at the end. Apologies in advance for the weirdness of this review.
- Great world building – Wow, is there ever a really detailed alt-world in this book. And Adrian Randall does not spoon feed you any exposition. There are so many tantalizing bits of information that get dropped that I would LOVE more details on.
- This is not a romance. Do not go in looking for anything remotely like a romance. You should read it anyway.
- The blurb accurately represents the book but makes the plot sound way more linear than it actually is. There are a lot of characters acting along many seemingly disparate and unrelated arcs. The overarching story is barreling toward a single resolution but not all the players are aware of each other, or as intentionally motivated about finding each other, or playing their parts as the blurb seems to indicate. Plus, the main characters are not as clearly defined as the blurb makes it seem; I would call this an ensemble piece if it were a movie.
- Excellent, EXCELLENT use of the unreliable narrator.
- You are going to hit a point in the book where it suddenly seems to slide into a whole other genre/niche. As in, “What the heck, I did not think this was THAT kind of story.” DO NOT RAGE QUIT. It all gets wound back into the main genre in a totally acceptable (and terrifyingly chilling) way. But man, did it throw me off for a bit.
- I’m pretty sure this book made me smarter. I googled the heck out of words and scientific theories to better understand the story, and it was absolutely worth it.
Now, I totally understand if you read those six points and ask yourself whether you actually want to read Countermind. Let me just say, you absolutely 100% do. Part of the reason I can’t be more explicit in my review is that it would flat out ruin so many of the twists and turns the story takes, and those twists are both thrilling and critical to the impact of the book. So, sorry not sorry about the vagueness.
Just know that I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of those books that will stick with me a long time. It’s partly paranoia about how plausible some of this seems, particularly in regards to how much information there is available about a person on the internet. Though the science itself certainly seemed acceptably plausible to me as well. In addition, the book feels as if it is set in the much nearer future than other spec fic I’ve read. As in, I could see it being right now, or the next ten years. I’m also (thrillingly) not sure how resolved things actually are at the end.
So, the summary of this seemingly random and possibly unhelpful review? Compelling. I keep circling back to that word. Countermind made me think really hard about privacy, technology, morality, social responsibility, and a slew of other big ticket themes. Adrian Randall did a masterful job of keeping me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure where the story was going until nearly the last page, and it’s been a while since I read something that I found so unpredictable. 4 Stars…5 stars? Heck, I’m not even sure how to rate it. 4.5 Stars! So all you lovers of spec fic, sci fi, and thrillers, this one is for you.
You can buy Countermind here: