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Book Review: Thrill Switch

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“Like a cross between Ready Player One meets The Silence of the Lambs…”

Detective Ada Byron is pumped to be assigned her first murder case–until she sees the crime scene. Someone has been killed exactly the same way as her father was seven years earlier. But, impossibly, he died using VR and the programmer responsible is still in prison.

To see if this is a copycat or something more sinister, Ada must confront her father’s killer: the enigmatic Jazlin Switch. What she discovers will change the face of both the real world and the metaverse forever…

Content advisory: contains violence, references to sexual abuse, and adult language.”

Title: Thrill Switch

Series: Standalone

Author: Tim Hawken

Page Count: 262

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: February 15th, 2024

Thrill Switch by Tim Hawken was another read for the SPSFC-3 competition for the second round. This was one of four books that were given to our group to read from other groups during the first round of reading. All four of these books seemed very different not only from what we read in the first round but from each other in this round. The review and scores below are strictly of my own opinion and do not in anyway reflect that of our team or the competition in general.
 
Thrill Switch was giving me dark cyber punk vibes similar to Bladerunner. The story itself is very different but that is what I pictured of the world during this read.
 
I’ve been lucky to have the chance to immersion read all of my second round books so far allowing me to see the visual story as well as enjoy some solid narrations. In this case we had Molly Secours narrating Thrill Switch. I was not previously familiar with any of her other work which can be difficult for me at times. That wasn’t the case here. I settled into her telling fairly easily from the start.
 
This leads us directly into the pacing. I would certainly describe Thrill Switch on the faster side of things. I think Molly did a really good job in bringing another layer to a colorful yet dark story that Tim Hawken has put together. I never had any issues with names of characters or places to struggle through within this one. I will mention there are some possible trigger warnings that are mentioned in the Goodreads blurb which are spot on. This story does get rather dark and it may or may not be too much for some readers at times. Another aspect that may be difficult at times is the real versus digital world hopping from time to time. I didn’t have any issues with this but if a reader isn’t paying enough attention, I could see some confusion due to this.
 
I felt the world building was a strong aspect to this story. Whenever I had a chance to dive back into this read, I was really in feeling into this world. Whether it was just the dark and gritty futuristic real world of Las Vegas to the wildly fantastic and dark digital world that was created. This was really that perfect type of atmosphere to immersion read in my opinion. The different factions and cultures represented in both of these realities were interesting to see throughout the story.
 
The character development was also done well. We see a solid arc from beginning to end for our main protagonist Ada which is expected. But I also really enjoyed the growth from some of the supporting cast such as Agent Joon and the story behind the seven were all very interesting to see unfold.
 
This story kept me on my toes in many ways. Not only from the darkness of situations at times but how things were revealed as we approached the end.
 
I’d certainly recommend this read to someone how doesn’t mind the trigger warnings, looking for something on the darker side of things and wanting a mystery being woven in and out of a digital reality.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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