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I rate this one four stars. It's good, not really great, but good nonetheless. I like the story, I like the characters, I like the action, I like it. That said, is it just me or am I the only one that is tired of problem-driven characters? From a detective in another novel I read last year with a transplanted heart, to Jevin Banks, renowned escape artist and illusionist, haunted by the death of his children at the hands of his wife, who drove herself into the sea and drowned them and herself, there seems to be a movement afoot in modern fiction that the protagonist of a story needs to be some sort of victim or survivor. Gone are the strong, silent types of yesteryear, today's protagonists all seem to have some sort of traumatic episode at the core of their life. An incident or tragedy that defines their existence and influences their every thought. My only real complaint about this book is that so much of it revolves around Jevin Banks's struggle to find meaning in his life after the great tragedy previously mentioned. Once I know that the character has had a traumatic experience, I am convinced of it. I understand how things can affect you, I don't need to be reminded of it in every other paragraph. There is a pretty good story here, all you have to do is find it.

On another note, having had my Kindle touch for some time now, I am amazed at how accustomed I have become to the device. Not a feverish, maniacal, all consuming fascination, just a very pronounced preference for the small form factor, light weight and ease of handling. I read a paperback book earlier this week and was surprised how clumsy it felt in my hand by comparison. And a hard bound book? Feels like I am lifting a brick. There are other, bigger, fancier readers and tablets out there, but, for me, the Kindle merges the ease of the eBook with a small, easily handled form factor that I find very accommodating when reading for hours on end.
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on April 6, 2014
I love the Patrick Bowers series so i was very excited to read this one. I have to say that it is in a completely different category then Bowers. The book was good, but I think that since I started reading this after finishing The King (Bowers series by same author) it was hard to switch gears and read this one. The main character has a lot of baggage from his family and it colors his out look on life. He specializes in "debunking" different things, and has a whole team to help him. I do have to say that I love the fact that the story of Christ is a little more prominent in this series. I have stated this before, but I dont believe in spoilers, but the premise of this book gives a whole new perspective on science and creation. Read this with an open mind and not comparing it to the author's previous works and I think that you will enjoy it.
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on March 21, 2015
4.5 Stars

This book marks my introduction to this author, and I must say I’m quite impressed. I’ve already bought Singularity (the sequel) just off of the strength of this novel. And I decided to pick up Rook, an installment from an entirely different franchise of his, involving an FBI agent, to see if I might be sucked into the rest of that series as well.

Placebo kicks off the hi-tech thriller series involving a pharmaceutical firm, psychic research, and biotech human enhancement, and, as you might expect, no shortage of politics, clandestine, covert corporate and pentagon involvement. Seems the earth-shaking consequences of the research going on may be more real than hype, which has all kinds of parties interested. I found the near-future world depicted as terrifying as it was inescapable. Though if you buy into the paranoia of the novel, this isn’t even the near-future we’re talking about; this stuff is going on right now. But whether you believe that this drama is playing out today in secret or not, it’s very hard to believe it won’t play out sooner or later. That makes the already engrossing drama and storytelling all the more engaging.

Characters are very realistically portrayed and believable, but more than that are a lot of fun. The author’s hero is a retired magician. Between his escape artist tricks and his karate training, he’s a believable hero for this kind of franchise where he repeatedly makes use of those skills to save his neck.

I was on the fence between a 4 and a 5 rating, and since I couldn’t get off the fence, I went with 4.5 stars. My nitpicks are few. For one, it takes several chapters to even know what genre you’re in. The author is very slow with sneaking up on the subject that will concern us, the clandestine biotech research going on that will ultimately identify the sub-genre we’re in. For another, he excels perhaps a little too much at plot retardation. Honestly I burn through more plotting in the first acts of my books than he has here for the entire novel. But that weakness is as much strength in the hands of someone who plays that card as well as he does. And it’s also admittedly a smart move to spend a little more time with the character development in the first book of a franchise. Just keep in mind that with this much plot retardation, the book is arguably more of a suspense (“Oh my God, what’s going on here?”) than a thriller (“Oh my God, how are they going to get out of this?”). Again, not necessarily a minus for folks who enjoy that genre just as much.
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on June 8, 2013
I chose "It's okay" because the book was written well enough, it just wasn't one that made me want to keep picking it up. I read part and began getting bored. I could predict fairly easily what was going to happen next. Then, about two-thirds of the way in, it began to illicit my interest once more. I wanted to know what would happen next. The ending was disappointing. I would've liked to've suggested a different ending. I read it rather quickly toward the end; I wanted it to be finished so I could read something else. Steven James' books "The Pawn", "The Rook", "The Knight", etc. drew MUCH more interest. I have read other writers' works that were abounding with hooks and draws that pulled you in. Then, there was a book they wrote similar to "Placebo". It was so-so. I realize these are strong words and I'm sorry, but, hurt as it might, I would not wish to lie. It isn't terrible, but it's not his best. I am looking forward to the sequel to this book. I'm curious to how it will compare. Might you be too?
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on April 7, 2013
I've come to know James's work through his previous detective Bowers stories and was excited to read this new story. I was not disappointed. This story is faced paced. It kept me flipping through it. Got it read in three days.

One of the things I really love about James work is his subtlety of the issues of God, forgiveness and other teachings. He keeps it real and doesn't cram religion down the readers throat. He paints his characters as real, dealing with real questions in a fictitious world. And like in life there's not always answers, the reader is left with one thing, Hope.

As for the story, riveting! It's also interesting stepping into the mind of his characters especially the psychopaths in this story, but it's nice knowing you can step out of them too. You'll have to read this story to see what I'm talking about.
Thank you Steven for writing stories that get to the grit of life yet drive home truth!
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on October 4, 2016
I love Steven James especially after the Patrick Bowers series so was excited to find another series. I purchased the second book as soon as I had finished this one. I like how in this series there are more scientific terms and angles of topics. I felt like after reading this I had learned a lot more and continued to research into some of the themes and topics included in the book.
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on January 17, 2014
Steven James' novels are extremely captivating, but are tough on the hyper-sensitive since the evil is so bone-chilling. The Pawn-to-Bishop series raised the bar for authors writing under the banner of "Christian Fiction", but revealed there's a difference between Christians writing fiction and Christian fiction. Both are needed and welcomed in our world, no question, but the victory and hope quotients were scarce in James' first series. At least one member with genuine faith appears to be a part of new protagonist Jevin Banks' top-notch and very interesting team, while at the same time he is seeking something greater than himself. I look forward to seeing where Mr. James takes the characters.
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on October 24, 2013
I was not as impressed with this book as I was with Steven James other series. I became completely absorbed in The Rook, The King, The Queen, etc. from beginning to end. I could not wait to read the next one. This one caught my attention at the beginning, and I was like, YEAH, another great book by Steven James and then the storyline lost me. It was science fiction not very well explained. However, the characters were riveting, as in the other series, and toward the end of the book, the plot became clearer and more understandable. I have the second book already, but I haven't been as anxious to jump into more mumbo jumbo right yet. Here's hoping the second book will prove to be worthy of Steven James's amazing writing.
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on May 6, 2017
I enjoyed the way the story was woven together. See an opening for the next book. Very strong female characters.
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on July 24, 2017
So good! I love it,
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