Fighting to survive in a world gone mad is a bold premise for any novel, particularly a dystopian one where the author is simultaneously required to world-build and deliver high-intensity action. In Paroxysm Effect, author Ashleigh Reynolds creates a utopian world of peace and prosperity, and then quickly destroys that façade, dropping her main character into a tangled plot of behavior-control chips that have suddenly ceased to function after 5 decades of dominion. The subsequent murder and mayhem makes for fast, voracious reading, and the pacing of this novel rarely lets up.
The story is highly original and shows a great deal of potential at the start of the story, but there are frequent errors – dozens in the first few chapters alone, both grammatical and spelling – so a strong editorial hand was essential before publishing. The dialogue is also very stilted at times, and is clearly intended to progress the plot or provide exposition to readers, rather than represent a realistic conversation.
The development of the characters is one of the strongest elements of the book; Gemi and Jaxton are both likable and readers are given proper insight into their backgrounds and personalities. Unfortunately, many of the peripheral players are glossed over – purposefully filling roles, rather than organically fitting within the story. However, the unique premise, grisly action scenes, and the author’s talent for tension make Paroxysm Effect a good read, but a few important tweaks and edits could make it great.