Review: The Electric Church

Posted: September 28, 2009 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Jeff Somers, Science Fiction

In our continued quest to bring you new authors and new series we have come across a number of candidates. You have a lot to look forward to. We, however, decided to start with this book, simply because it really has the coolest cover. (Hey…turns out even WE judge a book by its cover.)

THE ELECTRIC CHURCH by Jeff Somers (Amazon) is a loose SF/Cyberpunk novel set in a post-apocalyptic near-future USA (and London). In this particular world, a new religion, The Electric Church, guarantees Salvation and Eternal Life…

… with a catch.

The followers of the church are all called Monks, and their method of conversion is (assuming you don’t go willingly) murdering you, and implanting your brain in a robotic avatar. It is a cool concept in an otherwise action oriented novel. Our main character is Avery Cates, is a Gunner (aka. assassin and murderer). Our dear Gunner, Avery Cates, is hired to whack (we were requested in the recent contest to use this word) the leader of The Electric Church.

It’s hard to go into too much detail on this novel without going into spoilerville, because really, the plot is pretty thin. This is a SF equivalent to your hack-n-slash fantasy novel. Lot’s of guns blazing, lots of staring at people menacingly, but not a ton of content. However, THE ELECTRIC CHURCH is just the first book in a series, and there were enough small ideas that could be built on (hopefully) to make the next two novels better. Popcorn SF right here, folks. In all honesty, we could overlook the thinness of the plot just because it’s nice to have an SF novel that doesn’t take itself so seriously. You know what we are talking about.

THE ELECTRIC CHURCH is the first book in a series, and there were enough small ideas to build on to make the next novels better. Popcorn SF right here, folks.

The one huge complaint we have? Language. Look, we aren’t put off by swearing in a novel. But when you start questioning if you will read just ONE sentence without the F-word being dropped in it, it has gone overboard. We get it, Somers. You want to be gritty. But you know what? Language doesn’t make a novel dark and gritty. The tone does. The events do. Adding this much language makes us lose sight of the small plot. It is very distracting. With a tad more effort, and a more creative use of the English language, this book could have been amazing.

So, the positives? An extremely cool cover, a very solid (though not fleshed out enough) world and idea, and it is a really quick read (once again, this is nice for SF these days). The negatives? Avery Cates is pretty flat (Anti-heroes are great when they start questioning everything as opposed to just killing anything that moves. Hello? Character motivation is calling!), the swearing, and a fairly simple plot. After all is said and done, a lot of the more mature crowd will like this novel. We like a lot of what Somers did, and will read the next novels, but we were bothered by the bare-bones feeling the characters gave us. In all, this novel rides the line of “Books we Like” and “Books that are Mediocre.”

  • Recommended Age: 18+ due to the language alone
  • Language: WAY to much
  • Violence: Yeah, but it really isn't as crazy as we thought it would be considering the main character is a violent killer
  • Sex: Oddly no. With the inordinate amount of swearing in this book, obviously included for shock-value, we had started to expect a number of graphic, shock-value sex scenes.


  • sortitus says:

    Good sirs, I commend you for your excellent taste in words that mean kill. ;P

    The guy's blog is entertaining enough, so I'm willing to give him a chance. Now where's my library card?

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