I write, read and review, I blog frequently and love anything to do with books and writing, including editing. I am a Book Nerd and I wear that badge with pride. http://coffee2words.wordpress.com
Playback Effect is the fifth book I've read by Karen and it certainly didn't dissapoint. Like her other books, this one has a quite complex and intertwined plot. It also has a bit of legalese in it.
The concept of this story is very interesting. What if we could record our emotional reactions to things and share them with people in a form of personalised virtual reality, what would that mean for our friends, our family and even us? What if you could re-experience that amazing high you got when you won your childhood athletics carnival? Or what would it mean to those creatives who use emotion as inspiration? What if you could access someone's real reaction to something you're planning to write about?
The book, brings to light some answers for some of those questions, but it also poses some more serious ones. When felons are forced to experience their victims' emotional trauma as a way of punishment, what do you think would happen? Interesting and thought-provoking questions.
The characters are typical of Karen's work, three dimensional, flawed and felt very real. Almost as if she were drawing inspiration from people in her life. I didn't love Hal and Wynne, but I connected with them to some degree. I quite liked Arthur, even though I don't believe that was entirely intended. I think perhaps I was meant to feel a bit sorry for him, but there was something about him that struck me as a bit of a fighter, one to keep an eye on.
I was pleasantly surprised with Hannah's character. I would love to see a whole book written about her. She was brilliant!
Speaking of brilliant, but not in a good sense, the antagonist in this novel is decidedly creepy. The emotionally removed way in which they spoke and thought about things - chilling. How they maintained that detatched emotional control even throughout some of the most horrific events - terrifying.
Considering you get but brief glimpses of gruesome acts, the effect on the reader was quite intense because you get to experience the villain's POV. Great work Karen.
This only gets a 3 out of 5 for me because of a couple of points.
1. The scene changes in places are quite rough. I think this is because of formatting on the kindle - the paragraph breaks fall over the turn of a page so they look like one scene not two. The result was of confusion. "Who is saying what now?"
2. Occasionally the legalese got a bit much. Particularly at the end, I had to read a couple of the scenes multiple times to completely understand what was happening.
Overall, a fantastic plot, a great idea and a good cast of characters. This is teamed with an eye-catching cover. I'm not too sure about the blurb (particularly the opening sentence), but it still draws you in. If the two issues I've listed above were resolved it'd easily be a 4-5 star book.
A few things I noticed:
The typos I picked up have been rectified by the author.
ETA: Karen has been in touch with me and we've worked through the formatting issues and addressed the typos. Upping the book rating to 4 stars.
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.**