An intriguing thriller from this author... Synapse by Steven James (Review) @Celebrate_Lit

James is best known for his Patrick Bowers Files, but with his newest he takes a
bit of a turn to something more religious and more scifi. Read my review below...

By Steven James
Christian Thriller, SciFi
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 384 Pages
October 8th 2019 by Thomas Nelson


Thirty years in the future, when AI is so advanced that humans live side by side with cognizant robots called Artificials, Kestrel Hathaway must come to terms not just with what machines know, but what they believe. Is hope real for them, or merely an illusion?

Soon after experiencing a personal tragedy, Kestrel witnesses a terrorist attack and is drawn into a world of conspiracies and lies that she and Jordan, her Artificial, have to untangle. With a second, more brutal attack looming on the horizon, their best chance of stopping it is teaming up with federal counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon.

But the clock is ticking—and all the while, Jordan is asking questions that Artificials were never meant to ask.

Deftly weaving suspense and intrigue into a rich, resonant tale that explores faith and what it really means to be human, Steven James offers us a glimpse into the future and into our own hearts.

Synapse is an unforgettable, gripping story of dreams shattered, truth revealed, and hope reborn.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

SYNAPSE is an interesting Christian scifi where humans live with artificial intelligence every single day, and where technology continues to advance. Readers will be able to relate to the characters, while also finding the plot to be intriguing. An overall entertaining story.

James writes these edge-of-you-seat thrillers, or at least does with his Patrick Bowers Files. With this story, the thrilling part of the story is definitely still present, as is a slight romance. There is quite a bit of action throughout the story, but especially during the climatic ending. Those scenes James writes very well. I also thought the whole premise of an AI being able to think and act freely to be interesting. It is definitely something that seems to naturally test my thoughts on. I really enjoyed these characters as well. Kestral and Nick were interesting and likable. I could see how they could be attracted to each other, especially under the circumstances.

I did have a few issues with the story, which surprised me as I had fairly high expectations going in. The religious element was really strong. Probably the strongest I've read outside of reading a nonfiction theology book. I felt like much of the story was devoted to two different theological discussions with whole paragraphs and sometimes pages committed to specific ideas and beliefs. One argument was between Kestral and her brother and Kestral and herself about if God was real and if His love was real. The other was in regards to Kestral and Jordan (her AI) about what defines a soul and about finding and worshiping God, or finding faith. It felt like at least half of the story or more was related to these two discussions. The other issue I had was in regards to some plausibilities. It's never revealed why Ethan had to die or why Kestral was targeted specifically. It just didn't make sense to me and felt sloppy for an organization who showed it could be quite stealthy.

In the end, was it what I wished for? Overall, this was an entertaining read. It wasn't my favorite of the author's books and you definitely need to be okay with the very strong religious aspect. However, I enjoyed the characters and I found the plot to have some thrilling, danger-filled moments.

Content: Violence
Source: I received a complimentary copy from through CelebrateLit, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

About the Author

Steven James is the critically acclaimed, national bestselling author of sixteen novels. His work has been optioned by ABC Studios and praised by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the New York Journal of Books, and many others. His pulse-pounding, award-winning thrillers are known for their intricate storylines and insightful explorations of good and evil. When he’s not working on his next book, he’s either teaching master classes on writing throughout the country, trail running, or sneaking off to catch a matinee.

More from Steven

“James is a pro at creating suspense.” —Criminal Element

“stimulating tale…thrilling story of greed and corruption” —Publishers Weekly STARRED review

Read my op-ed on robots and faith in the New York Times

I grew up reading and loving science fiction stories. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of artificial intelligence, but as I’ve thought about it over the years, I’ve realized that our lives are not based just on what we know, but also what we believe. So, I started asking myself, “What would the world look like if machines developed artificial belief?” Within a few decades, advanced AIs might very well have consciousness and self-awareness. At that point, what will they choose to believe about the meaning of live, God, and the afterlife?

All of these questions were in my mind as I wrote Synapse, a story that takes place 30 years from now in a world very much like our own. This is a cautionary tale with implications that are both chilling and revealing and I think that if you like suspense, you’ll love this near-future thriller.


Tour Schedule

Emily Yager, October 9
amandainpa , October 10
Wishful Endings, October 10
Pause for Tales, October 12
Mary Hake, October 12
Hallie Reads, October 15
Blogging With Carol, October 15
Remembrancy, October 16
Texas Book-aholic, October 18
janicesbookreviews, October 19
Bigreadersite, October 19
A Reader’s Brain, October 20
By The Book, October 21

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