Book Review: SYNTHETIC, by Cat Thomas

Rated four stars out of five by reviewer Iris Chacon.  #BooksGoSocial  #SYNTHETIC., #CatThomas.  I purchased this ebook, and this is my honest review.

Science fiction fans will, no doubt, remember the mysteriously powerful and political Bene Gesserit nuns of Frank Herbert’s Dune books. The “Faith Police” in Cat Thomas’s dystopian novel, Synthetic, reminded me of the Bene Gesserit at the top of their game.

In Synthetic, the year is 2071, in the United Kingdoms. Lona Luminos, a brilliant ‘zlator, has come to enjoy a temporary job at a remote Welsh college. The school is known for its studies of Early Welsh History and culture, as well as its “research profile in non-conformist theology.”

All kinds of religions are practiced at St. Cadog’s College, except for Paganism (which is illegal). Hence, the dreaded and decidedly lurky Faith Police, who are every bit as beloved as the Gestapo. (Lona secretly professes no religion, and the Faith Police would not like that very much, either.)

The local Pagan group is to St. Cadog’s what Haight-Asbury’s hippies were to Berkeley in the 1960’s — but a hundred years weirder. The Pagans-vs.-College conflict is growing and could get really nasty.

A reality-fantasy conflict is threatening the College as well. The reader wonders from the beginning what are the “synthetic” things referenced by the book’s title. Lona (who has secrets of her own, thank you very much) encounters synthetic animals, servants, scientists, and even an entire virtual reality called OtherWorld.

“OtherWorld” has been created by the College as a virtual reality in which scholars may experience and study the ancient Welsh culture. Lona soon finds that the stories she is ‘zlating from the ancient language are taking shape in OtherWorld — and possibly even affecting the outer, or real, world.

The conflicts at the College, and Lona’s own secrets, complicate everything when a College colleague is murdered. The suspects may not all be real, or they may be in either the outer world or OtherWorld — or, heaven forbid, both worlds.

Cat Thomas has brought readers a fascinating, surprising and original world that combines the medieval aspects of a fantasy story of kings and princes with a futuristic story of a society losing its grip on reality. Battles, intrigue, humor, mysticism and romance entwine throughout this amazing tapestry.

Synthetic is the first Borderlands novel, according to its Goodreads page, and I will certainly be watching for future novels in this series.

You can get SYNTHETIC on AMAZON, where you can also follow the AUTHOR. For other reviews and ratings on SYNTHETIC, look at its page on GOODREADS.

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