Tuesday 22 April 2014

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory

Published by Tor Books

If you could hang out with God and benefit from personal guidance every day of your life, would you? Set in Toronto many years after the Smart Drug revolution there is a drug on the market known to users as Numinous. Now that anyone can download recipes and print drugs with their chemjet printer and an internet connection, drugs are easy to obtain.

A young woman is brought into a psychiatric facility to be treated for drug addiction and it's soon established that her source for Numinous is a new church that uses it for sacrament. With the ability to reprogram a user's belief system, it's the perfect way to aid people in connecting with their God but withdrawal is deadly.

Another patient who witnesses the events feels the sudden need to leave the facility. Lyda Rose was one of the original scientists who created the drug, and knows better than most what some of the effects can be. Thanks to taking Numinous many years earlier, she has had the constant companionship of a doctor/angel that only exists for her. When she and the doctor leave the facility to track down who is responsible for the drug being widely available, they soon realize they are in over their heads and it isn't long before an ex-government agent joins them.

What follows is a fast-paced read that mixes together a few genres which added to my enjoyment of this novel.

I really wasn't sure what to expect going into this one. I read the blurb and it really didn't give too much away (which I love) so like most of my reading experiences, I went into this read with no preconceptions. There is no gentle easing into the story with this novel so it does grab the attention of the reader from the start and it wasn't long before I realized that I was half-way through it already.

The plot earned and kept my interest in spite of the fact that I really couldn't connect to any of the characters, which is rare for me. That said, I've been dealing with a neck issue so it's also possible that that I wasn't as absorbed in the book as I usually would have been and when the book was nearing the end, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters. It does speak volumes for the book that in spite of neck pain that was aggravated by reading, I still couldn't and wouldn't stop racing through the pages.

There are many things I like about this book. The plot, the setting of the scenes, including tech & gadget information (yes, I'm an unapologetic tech nerd), obviously well researched mind/brain information, and the laugh-out-loud moments. My favourite thing about this book though, is the take on religion, spirituality, faith, delusion, and science. I love smart reads that raise questions in a non-offensive or non/judgmental way and Daryl Gregory achieved exactly that. The only thing I didn't like? One of the characters uses a racial slur and while I respect and understand that characters, like humans, are going to be flawed and have their own opinions and biases, I felt that the inclusion of that comment was unnecessary as it really broke the flow for me and it really didn't add anything to the novel.

As always, if you do read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too.
Happy reading!

Author's website: http://darylgregory.com/

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