Review by Elizabetta

five-stars120205

TITLE: Freedom
AUTHOR: Jay Kirkpatrick
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: In a future Earth, Patrick Harvey, newly promoted Class One Empath, dreams of the independence his position brings and the apartment he’s saving for. His first solo assignment is treating John Doe 439, a man found outside the city, battered, traumatized, and apparently mute.

Despite a strong taboo against Empaths forging romantic relationships, Patrick realizes he feels a strong attraction to his patient. Soon he learns the man is a high-level Psychic Talent named Jac. Then Jac reveals that there are abusive people hunting him for his gifts, and Patrick’s uncomplicated world explodes.

Jac needs to meet up with his companions and flee the city before anyone else can find him—but it may be too late. Word of Jac’s talents has leaked to Central Government in Chicago. If Jac wants to retain his freedom, he needs to run—now. And if Patrick wants to explore a relationship his society tells him he can’t have, he’ll have to exchange the safe fetters of his job for the uncertainty of liberty.

REVIEW:

Food for thought, that’s what this book is. This is more than a futuristic gay romance, it is a look at something we view as a basic necessity in life, and a gift: freedom… The dictionary calls it:

  • the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without restraint
  • absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
  • the state of being physically unrestricted; not being imprisoned or enslaved
  • the power of self-determination attributed to the will

But it is also a state of mind.

Patrick Henry is our hero in Freedom, and he seems to have never really thought deeply about his own freedom within his world. That is, not until he meets his patient, John Doe#439/Jaq. Little by little, Patrick’s eyes are opened to what his ‘perfect’ life really is, and just how much he has given up for safety and security.

Freedom takes place in an alternative universe, ‘new’ Las Vegas, New Earth. It is post-apocalyptic, post cataclysmic— we never really learn what the ‘Burst’ is that so devastated the country, leaving a society divided between those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’. The former live in protected, walled Cities, under guaranteed safety but also severe structure and surveillance (cameras are everywhere; citizens are tagged with tracking devices); while the latter live in the back-and-beyond in near anarchy, are seen as degenerates, are left to a scrounging subsistence.

For Patrick, living inside the City has always been the goal. There, at the Empath Center, he can use his abilities to help others. In this world, some are born with extra-sensory abilities: empathic, telepathic, telekinetic, and these gifts are highly sought-after by the powers that be. These valued abilities are the tickets to life on the Inside. Patrick is a Class One Empath and he is given his first big case, to work with Jaq, a severely beaten and raped, mentally broken, shell of a man found dumped in the desert. Patrick is anxious to prove himself, excited to finally help someone in need, spurred by the challenge of finding the key to Jaq’s mental prison.

But who is really the needy one here? As he finds out more about Jaq and his life on the Outside, Patrick discovers the limitations in his own life. Perhaps Jaq has known greater freedom than Patrick has ever imagined. Patrick’s whole world is set on end as his eyes are slowly opened to what he has given up for that safe and secure life. He also becomes aware of long suppressed emotions sparked by his close interaction with Jaq. The scenes where Patrick works to help Jaq find a way out of his nightmare are some of my favorites.

Patrick learns that security comes at a personal cost, and it is easy to make correlations to our present day situation— with surveillance cameras on every corner, drone technology, data mining of phone and internet correspondence in the name of security, the Patriot Act— insidiously and surely, what we perceive as freedom is being altered.

This book is very strong through the wonderful first half. The writing, plotting and pacing are well done, the characters, all of them, compelling. If there is a weakness, it is in Patrick. He is at times frustrating, seemingly naive and too malleable: he has allowed himself to be manipulated by those in charge, he has buried his head in the proverbial sand. It is hard to believe that he could be so oblivious. What saves him is his purity of soul and his nurturing, kind spirit. On the other end, Jaq is a truly unique character, a man of hidden depths. It’s a mistake to discount him, he is more than he seems.The second half of the book is a little less satisfying— it does have great action and drama, but there is an OTT bad-guy who just turns goonish, and the focus is more on the secondary characters. Jaq and Patrick are separated for much of it… and leaving the cocoon of their blossoming intimacy is jarring.

For me, Freedom draws parallels with where we are right now in our own ‘negotiations’ for security and safety and how these will inevitably affect our access to freedom. This raises it to five stars. Oh, and it is a great love story!

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ||  Book Store

PAPERBACKS: Dreamspinner Press  ||  Amazon

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Elizabetta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love
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Comments
  1. Macky says:

    Excellent review. Sounds really intriguing. Thanks Elizabetta. 🙂

  2. Katinka says:

    Sounds intriguing. I’ll definitely add this one. Amazing review Elizabetta!

  3. Shelley says:

    This sounds awesome! Great review Elizabetta

  4. elizabetta says:

    Thanks guys 🙂 It is a different kind of read and yes… was intriguing — good word for it!

  5. Ilhem says:

    Great review, Elizabetta. You give us food for thought, too.

  6. nishkagray says:

    Review:
    Five Stars
    Finally! A breath of freaking fresh air in this genre. Just in time too, because I was pretty sure I was going to suffocate soon. I don’t even know where to start but I’ll try not to gush.
    Real characters. Real personalities. Each and every one presented so skillfully that you’re likely to forget that you’re reading fiction. It’s so incredibly easy to relate to Patrick. A nice, normal guy, living in a world where everything makes sense, where everything has a purpose including him. He wants what we all want; a stable job, a comfortable life, and with some hard work, a steady climb up the corporate ladder. Despite the fact that the world he lives in is completely fictional, you find yourself comfortably sinking into Patrick’s beliefs, his routines, his life.
    When the author presents John Doe 439 for the first time, it’s just a small ripple in a pond. A ripple that grows larger and larger, until Patrick’s world starts to shimmer and shake, until everything he believes in crumbles to dust.
    I won’t summarize the book for you. I couldn’t give it enough credit if I tried. But I will say that a solid plot like this one is somewhat of a lost art. Many writers attempt it and most of them fail. While the action is solid, the build up is immaculate. This isn’t a story written around the romance, this an actual book, written with a purpose, a theme. The romance comes off like an occasional ray of sunshine through the clouds, and when it does, it will sweep you off your feet.
    My only complaint is the appearance of the stereotypical bad guy, or in this case, a woman. Up to that point, the focus on the supporting characters is incredibly detailed. An effort is made to humanize each and every one of them, so the reader can understand where their priorities lie and why. There would have been no harm in attempting the same with this ‘bad-guy.’ Sometimes, the scariest antagonists are those who possess the drive and beliefs that the reader can relate to. However, I don’t believe that this small issue takes anything away from the story.
    All in all, this is a Brave New World with a chance of a happily ever after. It’s rich, lovely, and I recommend it with all my heart.

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