Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction
Date Published: June 15, 2014
Number of Pages: 488
Print Price: $12.15
eBook Price: $5.49
Are you fascinated by time travel into the future? You might want to think twice after reading Syncing Forward by W. Lawrence.
Mr. Martin James is a security investigator for Innovo Pharmaceutical. He excels at reading microexpressions, and can tell when people are lying. He begins investigating a group that may be stealing from the company, but when he gets too close to the truth, he finds himself captured and injected with a mysterious drug, as the company headquarters is demolished in an explosion. The drug has the remarkable property of slowing him down, so that for him, the next seventeen years pass in two days. Of course, from his family’s point of view, their father has become nearly immobile, barely able to communicate.
The book deals with the incredible strain this puts on his wife, the pain of knowing his two daughters, ages seven and nine when he is injected, are growing up without him, and the agony of not knowing when or whether a cure will be found. This is complicated by the activities of the terrorist group that uses the drug to slow themselves down, so that they can sleep for decades and then pop up and wreak more havoc. They have the antidote for the drug Martin was given, but have hidden it well.
The book follows Martin’s painful journey as scientists try treatment after treatment on him, finally succeeding in allowing him to live one day in normal time every six months. He attends his younger daughter’s wedding two days in subjective time after he saw her last as a seven year old. His older daughter joins Homeland Defense in an attempt to track down the terrorists, and he is terrified that she will be hurt on the job.
Martin watches his family growing older, grandchildren and great-grandchildren appearing, friends and family passing away, and the world changing. It is fascinating as each time he is synced back to normal time, he finds himself in a new, more advanced environment, surrounded by wilder technological innovations. His brief hours with his family are often interrupted by police, government officials, and scientists who want to question him. Around him the world changes as weeks pass in three minutes for him: the United States breaks into several entities, and countries reform in different alliances.
Technological advances are fascinating and stunning, especially the advances in communication and networking. We see houses built of foam, enhanced police dogs who wear uniforms, and interstellar ribbons used to ferry goods from the Lunar and Mars colonies to earth.
The primary focus for Martin, however, is his family which is all important to him and which he is slowly losing. At his first grandchild’s birth he says, “An uncertain future, crazed terrorists, a life in shambles, but none of it mattered with a baby in the room.”
At times it seems a bit too much like one of those medical thrillers, full of medical details. But the suspense manages to hold the reader’s interest, as we wonder when and how the remedy will be found, and what will happen to the people Martin cares about. Three-fourths of the way through the book the reader may despair as the protagonist has thoughts of suicide. His life has been destroyed, and it seems as if he has no reason left to live.
Suicide is one of the themes in the book, touched on when Martin argues against it with his daughter and later with his best friend who is dying of cancer. He remembers his own arguments later when he feels the urge himself, but grief and loss have nearly driven him mad by then.
The Catholic perspective is evident in the book. Martin James is a casual Catholic, and never seems to move much from that position. He uses one of his precious hours to attend mass, and he discusses his fate with Father Gutierrez, the family priest, who gives him the encouragement that no man is given more than he can endure. It was disappointing that he never really talked to God. He talks about the church and the church’s stand on issues, and he does get angry at God on one occasion, but there doesn’t seem to be a relationship. The church primarily exists to enhance our relationship with God, so that from that perspective, the story was disappointing.
However, Martin’s focus is on his family,his love for them and his desire to protect them. God is working in the events, as he does in our lives, behind the scenes quietly. As Father Gutierrez says, “God has no doubt handed you a challenging life, and I don’t propose to truly understand your grief. Of this I have no doubt, however: there is a plan for your life. God doesn’t make mistakes. . . “
In the end, out of the chaos of events, political alliances, and technological advances, a greater threat to the existence of humanity arises than almost anyone could have imagined. Martin James may have a part to play in the salvation of mankind after all, and it becomes clear – to this reader at least – that God has had his hand on Martin through it all, even when all hope seems irrevocably lost.
The book is well written; the scenes are evocative and detailed without being overwhelming. It brings up some essential questions about the direction we are heading in our reliance on technology and its rapid pace. It makes the reader think about what is really essential in life. God is present in the work, though behind the scenes as in real life.
This book is not a fast paced thriller, although there are some exciting and terrifying events. It is a thoughtful contemplation of what the future may bring, as seen through the eyes of a man trapped out of time and forced to fast forward through his life. The reader suffers with the protagonist and can experience with him the small glimpses of joy he manages to achieve. It may make us appreciate our own lives and families more.
I strongly recommend Syncing Forward, 4 stars.Publisher: W. Lawrence
Original Language: English
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