My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disconnected by Nick M. LLoyd might be considered a bio-thriller, though it falls more into the fantasy science fiction realm, but if one were more generous to stories about telepathy and mind control then we could call it science fiction; however that's putting the term loosely and overlooking the prejudice of some against Teeps in general. I picked this book because I'd already read the author's book Emergence, which I thoroughly enjoyed and it is closer to science fiction. Since it was LLoyd's writing that I enjoyed I thought this would be a fair bet even though it almost meandered outside my usual read. So as the story opened I thought bio-thriller. Not far into the story we are introduced to Asha and the mind control squad, which somehow simultaneously brought to mind AE Van Vogt's Slan and Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio. Though the mind control was tied closely with an herbal source of sorts it still almost portended some advancement in human evolution. The description of how the practitioners observed the world around them and the natural connection that all beings have seemed new to me so it added a bit of freshness to the story as I read along. However that also contributed with the one thing that began to drag the story down for me. The good news is that the drag is associated with my own preferences and I think people interested in like fiction should warm up to this story quickly.
The story begins with Sarah out in the steaming hot jungle searching for bonobos who may or may not be suffering from some sort of virus. The plot behind the virus is rather convoluted at first, though not hard to follow. Boiled down they are looking for a cure for dementia and hoping to find something that correlates within the bonobo population. However Sarah's boss Polly Wolfson will go to any lengths to procure test animals straight down to injecting them with a virus if she needs to. Sarah doesn't agree with this, however her relationship to Polly's son Marcus has momentarily trapped her into a moral dilemma that she has to unravel. And that is probably too much to say about the plot.
Asha and his acolytes are interested in politics and manipulating the local politicians. Using the magic pill made from a bark from trees that grow exclusively in one place in the jungle they are able to enter and manipulate the connections that all people have subconsciously developed between each other. The connection to Sarah and Polly is through the jungle because the place that Sarah is hunting is the same where the trees are and there is more depth to that portion of the plot that I shouldn't tell.
Politics and medical science are on the verge of colliding when all appearances indicate that these two organizations might have enough in common to attempt to help each other. The question is, when you have two high powered manipulators working end to end, who is working whom.
Now onto a few troubles I had that really boil down to my own preferences and I'm certain that there will be other readers who will find the work entirely satisfying. I love stories that focus on a character and I can live with shared focus up to a point. This story seems to hover about Sarah and Asha alternately until the two story-lines collide. However I felt the focus more on Asha than Sarah and yet when I reached the end I felt the story belonged mostly to Sarah and that confused me a bit.
When I look back I realize that part of that confusion lie in that the story spends a large amount of time explaining both the Bio-medical portions and the nature of the mind manipulations. It might be that my mind glazed over during the bio-medical parts while it focused better on the mind manipulation world building. Still there is a large portion of both, which again may suit a lot of other readers and it does help get a full sense of what is going on in the background of both worlds before they collide. However there is so much that it almost begs a sequel to the story (why spend that much resource on explaining so much otherwise).
Still overall for those who like the Bio-thrillers and books on mind control and all the secrets behind how they work in this world this book has a lot to offer and it's well written with some interesting and somewhat complex characters.
Overall a great read despite my own moments in trying to keep focused.
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