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REVIEW: The Fear Principle by B. A. Chepaitis

REVIEW SUMMARY: A dark near-future with tough characters highlights this light but enjoyable read.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The latest patient of a doctor with empathetic abilities leads her into intrigue and conspiracy


PROS: Dark; quick read; interesting and engaging future society.

CONS: Slow buildup; balance between background and action could be better;

BOTTOM LINE: An quick, enjoyable way to pass the time.

The Fear Principle is an enjoyable book. I would classify it as an easy-reading science fiction cop story. It is the author?s debut novel.

The Killing Times are the period in Earth?s history when serial killing ran rampant and thus spawned the need for a newer and better prison system. So, planetoids have been set up around the Earth to imprison perpetrators and allow them to be rehabilitated by Teachers, whose empathetic powers allow the guilty to face their fears and be cured. Jaguar Addams is an Empath/Teacher whose latest case leads her into a web of intrigue and conspiracy.

The future world created by the author of The Fear Principle is dark indeed. It is the main appeal of the book, actually. The characters are survivors of the Killing Times and are callous as a result. The lead character, Jaguar Addams, is fairly complex. On the surface she is the ?rogue cop? who goes against her superiors to get results. But deeper, she is someone who genuinely cares about her work and must overcome her own fears. She?s far from a good or ethical character, but she tries. The tension between Addams and other characters (her supervisor, another Teacher, her serial killer patient) keep the reader interested.

The plot starts slowly and takes a while to build up. The author spends lots of time filling in the background of how society ended up the way it has, which is interesting, but cuts into the action a bit. Particularly when a page and a half might go by before one character answers another character?s question. So, if you?re looking for action/adventure?this isn?t it. I also found it hard to believe that society is letting serial killers loose just because they get in touch with their feelings. What?s that you say? You killed that family because you have a fear of being alone? OK, then, you can go.

Still, those are nits that only slightly detract from the enjoyment of this otherwise enjoyable story.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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