Book review: Asylum, by Ashley Hodges Bazer

Genre: Adult science fiction.

Summary: Ghost captain Chase Leighton’s wife, Trista, is captured by the Progressive Legacy and arrested for her affiliation with the Ghosts. Though publicly pronounced dead, she is handed over to the Legacy’s Experimental Medicine Agency.

Chase searches for her, despite the news that she’s been executed. He and his men are ambushed and sentenced to the Straightjacket, a ship-based facility for the criminally insane. Systems analyst Krissa Carlisle is temporarily assigned to the ship to fix their computers. As she is working, Chase and the other inmates riot, taking Krissa as their prisoner. But when Chase comes face-to-face with Krissa, he recognizes her as Trista.

And that summary interested me enough to volunteer for a review copy.

A little bit more explanation: It’s kind of like Star Wars or Firefly, with the tiny rebel faction fighting the Big Powerful Government faction. The rebels are honorable and kind, and the bad guys are mean nasty bullies. The rebels also have people with Logia, kind of magic powers. Chase himself is what other books call a Technomancer, able to manipulate machines with his mind.

But the book’s main strength is its medical horror. If invasive surgeries, drugs, and the details of mind control creep you out, you might want to stay away. I personally don’t have a problem with it. The surgeries and procedures were interesting, and made me really feel sorry for Trista. She quickly became my favorite character because she fights the mind control so hard.

The first half of the book kind of rushes through the plot and throws a bunch of characters at you. Chase and Trista fade into the Main Cast for a while. But once Trista gets caught and Chase gets sent to prison, the book really takes off. The scenes with Chase trying to break through to Trista/Krissa are some of the best in the whole book, and worth the price of admission.

And there’s plenty of tension, with the bad guys coming to kick butt and take names (and minds, and lives). The conclusion felt kind of scattered and ended abruptly. But all the loose ends are tied up. As this is the first of a series, I’m curious as to what characters the next book will follow, as the entire cast seems to have interesting stories.

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