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The Electric Church Paperback – 25 Sep 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Paperback, 25 Sep 2007
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (25 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316021725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316021722
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,402,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


An exhilarating example of powerful and entertaining storytelling'- Guardian ('Somers plot sprints along . . .entertaining near-future noir'- Publishers Weekly)

Somers writes with assurance and style. This is fun, cyberpunky noir SF with just the right mix of fatalism and attitude'- SFSite ('A first-rate piece of science fiction entertainment'-

An action-filled noir thriller reminiscent of Blade Runner'- Library Journal Review ('A dark, intense and suspenseful novel') ('A highly engaging and entertaining read') --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Welcome to the future, where everlasting life is just an upload away. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Set in a near future dystopian New York and London, this high-energy story pits mid-level hitman Avery Cates against the two most powerful forces in the quasi-fascist world. The first of these is the System Security Force (SSF), the totally tricked-out elite troops who keep the peace in the name of the System of Federated Nations. (If is the "SS" in their name reminds you of another group of elite soldiers, it's probably intentional.) Of course, in this class-stratified future, keeping the peace pretty much means keeping the plebes in line and protecting the wealth and health of the upper crust. They don't pay too much attention to small fry like Cates until one of his hits goes bad, and he kills an undercover SSF officer.

Alas, if you kill an SSF officer, all bets are off, and you're lucky if you live 24 hours. As it happens, Cates is incredibly lucky -- instead of being stomped into a pink puddle, he is made an offer he can't refuse and is directed to kill a very high profile target. This brings him up against a sinister religion known as The Electric Church, whose membership is growing at an exponential rate. The reason for its growth may lie in the wild rumors of forced conversion and brainwashing, rumors that Cates' new assignment will prove or dispel.

Jam-packed with fast and furious cinematic action, the book's real distinguishing feature is its colorful cast of characters. Cates assembles a team to help him -- including a weedy acquaintance with mysterious mental abilities, a British techie on the lam, and strange twin sisters specializing in transportation -- and then leads them to London for the big showdown. It's crucial in these kind of stories (or movies) that the hero be likable and his henchmen interesting.
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Format: Paperback
The book starts with lots of pace and lots of depth, like a real page turner. The story reminded me of "Escape from New York". The characters are well defined, the description of New York very atmospheric. Unfortunately after around 1/3 of the book, the pace drops, the descriptions are repetitive. The finale is disappointing and short. It might work as a movie, but as a book it lacks depth and energy.
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Format: Paperback
The Electric Church mixes cinematic action sequences with a fast-paced plot and a no-frills, utilitarian writing style - and here lies its Achilles' heel in my view.

The book reads like a film script, with a breathless pace that hurriedly ushers you from one action set-piece to the next, with minimal character development and back-story, making its dystopian world seem flimsy and insubstantial.

Sci-fi at its best is as much about ideas as it is action, and The Electric Church is skewed in favour of the latter at the expense fleshing out the reasons why we should feel sympathetic towards the main characters or an affinity with the world they find themselves in.

Each chapter is no more than a few pages long and meaningful exposition as to why the main protagonists behave as they do and what brought them to where they are now is very thin on the ground.

While the action is fast and furious and the plot clever and expansive, the book ultimately feels disposable, like wolfing down a take-away with a plastic fork from a cardboard container, as opposed to savouring something special that lingers on the palate.

If you want a book that has a similar story theme and action-oriented ethos as The Electric Church but is set in a richly realised universe with believable characters I would recommend Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. It mixes furious cyberpunk action with an impressive depth of story-telling and character development and is everything that The Electric Church could have, and should have, been.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Life is too short for bad books.

The premise; take the titular hitman from "Leon" (I don't kill kids), transport to a mix of the land of "Robocop" and "Bladerunner", add in the authoritarian police state of "Minority Report", and introduce the villain in the form of Dr Who's "Cybermen"... and you have "The Electric Church".

Sounds pretty cool, right? Ok, nothing original, but a good pastiche?

No, no, no - a thousand times NO!

Ok, why?

Well first of all, the writing is devoid of any philosophy or romance. This is simply supposed to be a high-octane action fest in the vein of the "Bourne" series, but lacking any of the intelligent dialogue.

Secondly, the writing is cheap. Personally, I don't like characters who swear constantly, but I can accept it. What I refuse to accept is where the narration is littered with expletives - there is simply no need for it.

Thirdly, the grammar is just awful - commas appear in the wrong places and break the flow of writing so much that I often found myself having to re-read a whole paragraph to understand what was happening, because a misplaced comma jarred me out of the scene.

Finally, the characteristations are woeful. The "good guys" are supposed to be gritty drunkards who kill for a living. The police are authoritarian. The "bad guys" are implacable machines who kidnap and kill in order to propagate themselves. Yet all lack depth and history.

This is supposed to a be techno-punk story set in a dystopian near future, but this acutally little more than pulp writing which lacks any sense of the noir - the characters regularly make decisions which they cannot explain.

If you read this review and then buy the book, please don't say you were not warned.
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