Author: B. T. Keaton
Genre: Science Fiction
Set in a dystopian world of the future, Transference tells the story of Thaniel Kilraven, a man whose soul was transferred into the body of an infamous criminal before being shipped off to mine the precious ore used for such “tranferences.”
Hailed as the way to live forever, these transferences are overseen by a Church that will not tolerate opposition, sending any who deviate or oppose them to the mines. When Thaniel kills one of the wardens, he knows punishment is coming. Instead of a quick execution, or even a slow death, the Church sends Corvus, a special agent to the mining world, eager to discover if he’s really who he claims to be. Thaniel has waited a long time for answers and justice, and he and his friends will do anything to get him back to Earth safely…and, ironically, so will the Church.
Rich in world-building and corruption, this story is full of unexpected surprises and plot twists. The narration is entirely first person, but numerous point-of-view characters are used, from Thaniel and Corvus to Thaniel’s friend in the mine, the Prophet of the Church, and a few of the freedom fighters back on Earth.
References to contemporary technology are sprinkled throughout the story, offering a seamless explanation of how the world went from today to the horrible world of 2103, yet much is lost in the wars which seem to have changed Earth forever. Thus, the technology and cultural creations of today have become treasured relics, remembered and known by few, which creates a fun nuance for the reader.
Though a standalone novel, the story reads almost like the second in a series, as quite a bit of backstory exists for each of the main characters, and the novel starts in the middle of the action, when everyone already has something to fight for or has lost something.
Much of the exposition is provided by Thaniel as he recalls his life for Corvus, which creates a very realistic feel, where nothing is done specifically for a reader. Still, some readers might find this confusing. There are elements to the story that are only referred to in the briefest of ways, and the pacing can make it hard to absorb what happened to these characters in the past.
Similarly, there are no clear indications as to which chapter is told from which character, leaving readers to play catch-up as they go from one scene to the next, though clues are given in the first few pages.
The author excels at creating characters, and even those who make the briefest of appearances feel real, nuanced, and unique. The novel doesn’t hold back anything, emotionally or verbally, creating a moving, gritty story full of family and heart.
Readers who enjoy a book that prompts them to read between the lines and keeps them guessing will be thrilled with this story. The author brilliantly explores the themes of identity, purpose, freedom, and love with this engulfing, realistic, and vibrant science-fiction story.
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