Book Review: Lenders The Unlicensed Consciousness by Travis Borne

Book Review: Lenders The Unlicensed Consciousness by Travis Borne
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This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary: Lenders: The Unlicensed Consciousness by Travis Borne is the first book in the Lenders Saga. Machines have taken over the world, and humanity is nearly eradicated. In what may be the last town (cities have been long gone for years) of civilization, people live safely behind the walls. Those walls are guarded by another set of machines, machines powered by Lenders. Amy has always been different. A rare human rescued and brought to the town, she seems to have a natural talent that might reveal the way to save everyone, but her very nature challenges a way of life some don’t want to leave behind. What will Amy do when humanity’s own selfish desires force her to choose between herself and the rest of her home?

Notes up front: I mentioned this on my Goodreads and Amazon reviews. This is, unfortunately, the worst book I’ve ever read. This review will cover my reasons. But there are some things I need to mention. According to the e-book’s buy page on Amazon, the most current edition is the fifth edition. So it’s possible I read a very early draft. Also, just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t. Again, I’ll list my reasons below, but I want to give Mr. Borne fair credit. This title has more reviews and a higher rating than any one of my titles, and that’s a credit to him. So take my thoughts with some salt. I’m one man with one opinion.

Character: If you are a reader or an aspiring author who wonders what a Mary Sue is, look no further than Amy. I can think of at least six times when other character marveled at Amy and what a “natural” she was from flying a space ship to acting as a Lender. Some of the plot points explain it, but the book never challenges Amy. She’s perfectly capable, perfectly sympathetic (nice), and immensely powerful. This makes her boring when she isn’t simply annoying. She never faces a challenge. She never displays a hint of anything but a unrealistic and frustrating Pollyanna view of this world full of murder and violence. It’s frankly unrealistic. Maybe she might choose to always do the right thing, but she never even appears to struggle with the decisions or express any anger or frustration. This book is oddly divided into four parts (by my estimation). Another character, Harold, has a much more interesting arc. I’m of the opinion that his story was far more worth while than Amy’s, but even that story has several issues.

Exposition: What scenes were written to show the reader what was happening rather than telling the reader what happened seemed crammed with unclear metaphor and mental soliloquies that would make even the most avid Attack on Titan fans (man they have a ton of internal angst dialogue scenes) stop watching the show. It seemed that every action required some expository sermon about the nature of humanity and how awful it is. This is made even harder to read because the draft I read was so poorly proofread. I honestly couldn’t tell what parts were just (bad) metaphors and which were flat out written incorrectly. At least seventy percent of the novel is exposition. The paragraphs are multiple pages long (That’s not an exaggeration). For every line of plot, the reader has to suffer through a full page of typo-filled exposition, and that’s not something I’m willing to do.

Worldbuilding: The arrangement of this worldbuilding is probably the cause of why it feels so off. Everything in this book happens a moment before it’s needed. Solutions that (through exposition) were set up well before the plot point is reached are only explained (through) exposition as a sort of explanation of how it was made possible as opposed to woven through the plot in a manner that leads to a satisfying realization. Consider for a moment that there are some Matrix-like connections (though I promise its not so much as a ripoff). Those interludes serve only to fill plot and don’t build character in any way. What could have been a cautionary story about what happens when evil man gains too much power or creates a power that exceeds his own, is instead just an unfortunate series of events that rarely show any hope for humanity. As with everything else in this book, a near impossible-to-believe rescue comes and goes. Then we get a five page speech about how it was made possible. So much telling. So little showing.

This image of Borne and company was taken from his Amazon author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: A large portion of the dialogue here is more given for plot and exposition than actual growth or character study. I will say the voices of the characters were unique. The problem was that these original voices were buried in hundreds (if not thousands) of words where the author gets in the way of the story rather than letting the characters live the story. So this possibly redeeming quality of the story is suffocated by the rest.

Description: This book shows that lots of words to tell what happened don’t come anywhere near the quality of carefully chosen words that show what happened. Possibly well-done description of scenes and settings were covered by poorly chosen metaphors. Unfortunately, the most care was placed into the most disturbing visuals. I completely understand the need for graphic detail, especially in cautionary stories. However, when the only careful description is given to those portions of the book, it feels like violence for the sake of violence. Again, I have plenty of graphic scenes in my own work, they just aren’t the only scenes with description in them. I had to mention that because I want to be clear that I’m well aware of my own content. So I either have to acknowledge that and explain what I feel the difference is or avoid it and be called out as a hypocrite. Some may feel I’m still a hypocrite, and they have a right to their opinions. What I hope to distinguish is a story where the most of the content we see clearly is gore and a story that is complete in its description, some of which is gore.

Overall: There is a viable concept in this book. The author mentioned multiple drafts, and it’s possible the story is far better than the draft I read. Structurally, it’s segmented into two timelines that never really come together in a satisfying way. The earlier timeline is far more interesting because the characters are so very flawed. Amy isn’t interesting at all. Grammatically, it’s very demanding on the eye. I want to give credit to the author. It is very clear how much love and effort he put into this. I can see the energy he put into outlining and drafting. So while I will be honest about how hard this book was to read, I would never want to simply say rude things for the sake of cruelty. I understand that all of this might be hard to read if the author makes his way to this page. I feel just as inclined to talk about why a story didn’t work for me (like this one didn’t) as I do about why stories work for me (like The White Dragon). I actually feel very happy that there are new editions out there because, like any story, this one could really shine with the right editing team and the right amount of work, and I hope that’s happened. I’m not inclined to try and read it again, but I do hope that you don’t let my opinion sway your opinion. Again, there are several reviews where readers loved the story, so take my singular opinion for what it is.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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Announcing the April Book Cover of the Month

Announcing the April Book Cover of the Month

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. This was a solid month with an amazing (and possibly the most historic) comeback.

We had 5,885 votes this month.

The competition was pretty close up until about the halfway point. Then one book stopped playing around and took off. That was some amazing support to be honest.

The March Book Cover of the Month is…

 

 

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The Unlicensed Consciousness by Travis Borne! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Lenders received 434 total votes.

Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay managed to come in second, which means she gets a second shot at a Book Cover of the Month Award.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

When dreaming becomes an occupation…but it’s no picnic and what must be done is not for the faint of heart. Very few can do it successfully, or stomach it, until Amy comes along. She’s special, but not for any reason you’d imagine.

Jump twenty-five years into the future where the last of humanity survives in the last city, a quaint town surrounded by a great wall. Science is limited, except in the facility where technology stabilizes the world of dreams, where consciousness itself is harvested in exchange for protection.

When the unexpected happens Jim is faced with a gut-wrenching decision that could change everything. But it’s what his malcontent self had always wanted, right? Travel beyond the solar system, through wormholes, into The NOTHING—The SOMETHING as some call it, then explode out; to the edge of the universe, realms unrecognizable—and depending on his choice, possibly into a world of doom purposed for the unimaginable. But is this really just a dream, a MAP as labeled by Ted and the other scientists?

Journey into a vast desert with mezcal-drinking Felix in his clunker pickup where secrets run deep. Meet Mister Quain Renmore in a world unimaginable; he wants to disclose more than he’s allowed to—beware of his slaps and kicks. Push the boundaries of the system, testing its limits with newfound powers. Will it burst through causing the ultimate surge, or is it already too late? And will it even be enough to save them—the drone army has already punched through the defenses! Head to the safe room, pack in tight while Amy, Jim, and the lenders battle against all odds to pull off the impossible.

Experience the beginning where it all started, 25 years ago. Powerful companies race to develop AI, and one man with a prescience greater than your typical mortal manages something special by working nearly 20 hours per day. He’s rudely blunt and tells it like it is. But can he tear down the walls that hold him prisoner to a world of hate? Will he realize, he doesn’t have to go through this alone. Hatred forged from years of abuse and mockery, once a nerd but now a king, haunted by terrible speculations of a perspicacious mind he knows things will take a turn for the worse and decides to unfold a chair, pop open a beer and watch it all burn, but now…has everything changed? He finds someone special across the border in Mexico, but can newfound love assuage the demons raging war inside his mind. His immense mental capability is balanced by a terrible trio that bullies his rational and sanity.

With a select group of friends and a rescued heart, will he alter the plans? While there can be no stopping the coming destruction, could he and his team pull it off anyway? Maybe, with the assistance of another very special mind.

Horrific terrors delivered to your spine, encounter myriad dream worlds, learn lessons from goodhearted characters like old Nanny at the fair, laugh at red-headed Myron, Amy’s wacky chainsaw-wielding school buddy going ballistic on tourists in the canyon map. Cry when new love is born, also cry when trust is shattered.

A warning to all readers: attempt to retain your lucidity while things snowball for civilization, fires rage, and volcanoes vomit. Bear witness to mass destruction on a comprehensive scale—but just as the lights are about to go out for good: along comes Jim, Amy, Rico, and the lenders, assisted by head scientist Ted—in the future; Herald, the love of his life, and his friends—in the past. Can Herald and his team outrun the approaching nightmare in the hover-jet? Can Amy and Jim slip through where all others have failed? Will a species prove itself worthy? Will a beacon for intergalactic assistance be heard, and if so will it arrive in time to save the final stragglers?

(END BLURB)

I’ve added The Unlicensed Consciousness to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought MarchFebruaryJanuaryDecember’s book.


Feb_Cover_Collage
Here’re Travis’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. Truth is interviews are a bit hard to arrange on my end these days.  I’ll try to get back on track, but things are looking a bit busy lately (in a good way).

The May Book Cover of the Month is almost set, and that contest will launch June 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt