Friday, 2 May 2014

Book Review | The Institute by Thomas E. Montgomery

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much.

"The heroine, Sylvie has been trained from early childhood in the martial arts, first by her father then by the master that trained him.
When her friend is abducted by a psycho doctor, she confronts him and is gassed and captured. The Doctor, alters her memory. She now believes she works for The Institute, a top-secret organization in Maryland near Washington DC.
Its mission is obscure. Even its existence is known to but a few. Outside the grounds, the Institute is thought to be an expensive, privately owned sanitarium.
Their patients, who are their operatives, are availed the product of years of technical advancements in covert processes. Their minds are cleaned before a mission and then imprinted with only mission critical data. No need to pretend. They are their cover identities.
They have no knowledge to leak to the enemy. Once back from the mission, their minds are returned to a pre-mission state. Fool proof.
Jackson is a college friend of Sylvie. Her mother asks him to find Sylvie. He tracks her to the Institute. Where he, too, succumbs to the doctor's nefarious ways.

Jackson and Sylvie struggle to maintain their own identities, as they travel a path of danger and intrigue during missions for the Institute, and then against it as the Doctor tries to keep them under his control."

The premise of this book is really interesting and not one I've seen or read before, which I thought was absolutely fantastic. The plot and layout was also unique and something I really enjoyed. In some chapters it starts exactly the same as other chapters for a very specific reason, and I thought that this unique way of starting a chapter was something that was one of the wonderful things about this book. Nevertheless, I sometimes found it hard following the story. In places I got really confused about what was going on and had to flick back a few pages to try and follow it. I think it sort of jumps around a lot and was a tiny bit hard to follow, but that's just a minor detail that could be very easily solved.

There were a lot of very short, simple sentences which made this a very choppy read. It would have increased the flow to have a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences, just to tie everything together nicely and make it an easier read. It was very fast, however, and I do enjoy reading a fast paced book sometimes. There were also a lot of inappropriately placed commas which is easily fixed just by grabbing hold of some BETA readers and getting them to check over everything. I've been known to place too many commas also, so I can understand it, but sometimes they're just not necessary or don't fit in.

The author clearly has amazing potential for writing, and despite these little niggles I had with it, I did enjoy reading this. I thought the story was gripping and I wanted to find out how it ended and was eager to get to the end to see if it all worked out for everyone. Character development could use a little bit of work, as could scene setting. The author uses a lot of "tell, don't show" in this novel. I believe a greater description of character and setting, and more development of the main characters to be crucial, but that does not negate the author's clear ability to write.

For a first novel, this is absolutely brilliant, and I really really hate writing about the negatives of a book, especially with such a clearly talented author. The whole novel has potential, as does the author, and that is clear throughout. I enjoyed it, feeling that the wonderful things about this book balance the negatives, and would definitely read the next book in the series.

* This book was sent to me for free through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.