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The Electric Church, by Jeff Somers
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 4/24/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

The Electric Church, by Jeff Somers

Book Review by Jennifer Hairfield

Have you read this book?

Jeff Somers's debut novel, The Electric Church, is a wild ride in the future where everything is an organized chaos. Once the riots are over and society as a whole is unified there are three groups: the poor, the cops, and the rich. The rich have no worries and they only work if they're bored. The cops are a different story; they are called the SSF, System Security Force, which contains many levels some of which are only one step up from being poor to being the King Worm, Dick Marin, of the DIA. The cops do have some cool gear they use like the Obfu, chameleon-like clothes that match the surrounding environment, so they are practical invisible. But it's the poor that gets the short end of the stick. Most of this class has become criminals just to stay alive. Hired muscle, Gunners, and runners, none stay alive for too long which makes the main character, Avery Cates, a smart criminal. Cates is known as a trustworthy criminal which is an oxymoron in any case but this one.

After accidentally killing a SSF Officer, Avery Cates is a very wanted man. But it's Dick Marin who changes his life. With the aftereffects of Unification ruining life, the Electric Church is on every corner with a Monk preaching salvation. But to be converted means death. In order to become a Monk, the human brain is removed and placed into a cyborg body so that they have eternity to find salvation. But this religion is the fastest growing one in history--to the point that in the next eight years it could be the only religion. The job that Cates is charged with is to kill Dennis Squalor, the founder of the Electric Church.

With a group of top-notch criminals Cates is off to do the job and hopefully live long enough to enjoy the payout after the job is done. The good news is that once it's done his record will be clear, as will Gatz's, his psionic partner, and they will receive new identities. Plus, anyone he kills, including cops, will be expunged from his record as well. But the bad news is that if he gets caught, he's on his own.

The entire book is about Avery Cates trying to kill Dennis Squalor while trying to keep his team and himself alive and not fighting each other. This was a fast-paced story after the long prologue, which was an ordeal to get through. A bonus is at the end of the book, where there are parts of the Electric Church's bible called the Mulquer Codex.

The pace was done very well for this novel considering all the fight scenes; it gives the reader the feeling of running out of time. The characterization was pretty good overall but the individual cops that play important roles could've been dealt with in more depth. The feeling of a run-down NYC that saturates this story was wonderfully done but I still wish that the Monks were a little bit more alien feeling. Anyone who likes a good sci-fi will love this novel as I did.
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