Soulminder - Timothy Zahn

(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

Mostly I liked the dilemmas that the Soulminder invention itself presented: a tool born from a dream, from a ruined family, in the hopes of helping other people, but whose use quickly gets perverted for recreational or even oppressive means. The aime behind the Soulminder project was almost too innocent, so much that I could only see it getting twisted at some point or other.

The novel explores some of those aspects (there would be more) through a series of "chapters" that read more like connected short stories. Soulminder and its creators, especially Sommer, remain a connecting thread, but they're not necessarily the main protagonists. This structure was surprising at first, but I quickly got used to it, as it allowed me to see the whole project through different sets of eyes: its scientists', its doctors', its patients', those of people trying to abuse it, too...

The downside was that a lot of characters felt flat, not developed enough. Perhaps understandable for minor characters who did not appear a lot; less forgiveable when it was Sommer and Sands themselves, as red threads, who did not manage to make me more invested. At times, their duo may have read too much like a convenient device, one unknowingly opening doors to abuse so that the other could point out what could go wrong (and was proved invariably right). On the other hand, I took quite a liking to Frank Everly, whose take on security matters and efficient, though jaded views made more vivid in my opinion.

Soulminder is also one of those weird kinds of books that you quickly get tired of, in that you don't feel like reading more than a few pages at once... and then you find yourself getting back to it half an hour later, wanting to read more no matter what. I have no idea what this is called, or if it even has a name, but it's how it felt for me.

This said, I still enjoyed it as a whole.