I chose Freedom based on a suggestion. I didn’t read the blurb but went in with high expectations. I quite liked the book for most of it, though once the group broke out of the hospital and were on the run, things started to fall apart. The ending is nicely wrapped up but I was left with a lot of questions. Most of all I couldn’t buy into the chemistry between the two lead characters and I found one of the lead men to be weak and uninteresting. These two issues definitely killed some of the reading enjoyment for me. At the same time the writing and creativity are high and I’d cautiously recommend this one. I’m on the fence whether I’d read this author again.
The premise is a post-apocalyptic society where survivors are classed with Talents. These are Psychic talents that manifest in a variety of recognizable ways. Patrick is an Empath and works at a local hospital. He is assigned to treat an unknown man who was picked up off the street, battered and bruised. This unknown man, Jac, has numerous high level Talents and is soon endangered because of them. Now Patrick and others must work to free Jac before he can be apprehended and locked in a lab.
The actual plot is somewhat more complicated and complex than the simplistic summary may suggest, but those are the essential elements. The creativity is pretty high and the author/story did a good job incorporating decent world building and background information. There are no clunky blocks of exposition but instead a smooth transition of dialogue, information, and action. The prose is clean and evocative. The first half of the story while Jac is in the hospital is especially riveting. The dynamics between the characters and details incorporated make for a quick, exciting read.
I especially liked the character of Jac and the interplay between him and Patrick. I could see a connection, of some sort, and sped through the pages with ease. Once Jac’s partner, Rob, is introduced and the group quickly leaves the hospital then the plot, pacing, and interest fell off sharply for me. Here the plot suffers, as there are additional characters that feel distracting, even as they have a point and are interesting in their own right. The race to get away from the government worker feels very uneven – hurry up, wait, hurry up to confrontation. There are additional peripheral dramas, such as Jac’s mental wanderings, that left me confused as to their purpose.
One main issue I had during this part of the book was that Patrick completely unravels. He turns from a somewhat competent man to unintelligent, naïve, and ineffectual. He literally does nothing to help anyone and in fact hinders numerous people in multiple ways. His abrupt shift from compassionate worker/friend to naïve foil made me dislike him and he never recovered in my opinion. His connection with Jac feels weak compared to the strength of Rob and Jac’s bond. I never really saw why Jac was so enamored with Patrick or why he would chose him over Rob. I can extrapolate and make assumptions but I didn’t feel that connection between them.
On the plus side I think the story is creative and well written. It has good world building, a complicated and fascinating cast of characters (all of whom I liked better than Patrick), and a decent story. For most of the book, the pages fly by with interest but the last third kind of lost me as a reader. The plot and lead character turned and never recovered for me. I’d cautiously recommend this as it’s an enjoyable book on the whole, but I’m not sure I’d trust this author again. If readers aren’t as turned off by the last third they should enjoy this considerably more.