Shunt by Jason Arsenault is a science-fiction novel that takes place in a dystopia where a device can be used to control and manipulate one’s emotions: a shunt. A shunt is an implant that can alleviate suffering by transferring it to a “Pain Surrogate”, Jade is a young woman who uses this Shunt to deal with the death of her younger brother. She feels immediate and immense relief, until she starts getting traumatic flashbacks of her brother’s murder. She unites with her old friend to investigate this and together they uncover a massive and seemingly omnipresent conspiracy involving a killing machine, the PrimaCore, company supplying shunts, and of course, the government.
Shunt offers a completely gripping story– even beyond its unique premise. All the characters’ dialogue and interactions with technology feel so grounded and engaging. Which seems like a strange thing to note but I appreciate it in a genre where a lot of characters go around casually throwing about ridiculous phrases. This kind of thing undoubtedly has its place and audience, but I found it refreshing how simplistic and real the technical explanations were kept in Shunt. Although the general focus was on Jade, her relationships, and her journey, all the secondary characters were also given fair treatment. Their internal battles spanned a variety of issues that are relevant today.
Author Jason Arsenault has completely nailed the pace of the book. He doesn’t waste any time getting to the meat of the story. It’s a heady read as he keeps the tension tight throughout the book. In some ways, the plot reminded me of the movie, “Her” As Jade discovers the dangers of getting to know the behind-the-scenes of this technology a little too intimately, the knowledge holds the potential to destroy her.
Although this is not exactly a “restore your faith in humanity” book, I still enjoyed its overall tone and themes. It was realistic while managing to convey the dangers of ignorance, greed, and corporate megalomania. It really is un-put-downable. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking and expansive science fiction novels.
Pages: 229 | ASIN: B08DPWQNQV