Review: Synthesis by J. A. MacLeod

Don’t you just hate it when you’re at a subway stop and you hear someone calling for help from the tunnel? Then when you venture into the tunnel to see what’s happening, you stumble upon a hideous monster. Okay, that hasn’t happened to me. But after reading Synthesis by J. A. MacLeod, I’m now terrified of subway tunnels. And of monsters.

In MacLeod’s novel, Jack Gray can’t turn a deaf ear to someone calling for help in a Cambridge subway station. The monster that he encounters doesn’t seem to be from this world. After a terrible fight, Jack wakes up in a hospital room. He’s been asleep for four days. When asked who or what attacked him, Jack can’t remember. The police don’t like this answer since they found blood that wasn’t Jack’s. Was he attacked or was he the attacker?

When checking out of the hospital, he’s handed a bag with the belongings he came with. He discovers a necklace that isn’t his. It’s made of a computer chip and has bits of rose quartz inserted in it. Something tells him not to give this piece of evidence to the police. He knows it’s wrong, but he feels that the necklace holds the key to what happened to him. He wants to remember the attack.

Strange dreams and an encounter with a magician named Jillise opens new doors for him literally. He crosses through a portal into a whole new world. Jillise’s world is filled with magic, but no technology. And her world is threatened by an evil man. Jillise and Jack soon discover that they are involved in an epic battle to save both of their worlds.

Right away this story hooked me. MacLeod took the word imagination to a whole new level. Using his scientific background he grounded the novel, and I felt like this story could happen in real life. However, that didn’t concern me much. All that mattered was finding out what would happen to Jack and Jillise. Each page promised more excitement. Each new adventure added a different twist to the plot. At times I was so turned around I didn’t know which way was up. And I enjoyed every second of it. When I finished my review copy I felt a sigh of relief. Not because it was over. I saw a sample chapter for the sequel. Thank goodness. I need more. I want more. I demand more from this author.

Before I end this review I should mention one drawback that drove me batty. I’m not sure if it was just the copy I received from the author, but there were too many tiny errors. For example I read, “Sje looked down.” I started to scratch my head. Who was Sje? Then I figured out he meant she. Or at least I think so. These niggling errors added up.

I wish for two things from J. A. MacLeod. First: correct all the annoying mistakes. Second: never stop telling stories. Reading this novel was a delight. It’s over 300 pages, and yet I devoured it quickly. I didn’t want to stop reading. If I read a copy without all the bothersome mistakes I would give this novel a 5 out of 5 hands down. However, since I did have to wade through one too many blunders, I’m going to give it a 4 or maybe a 4.5. It really was that good.

A Note from the Author: these mistakes have been corrected in the newly published version.