Monday, May 5, 2014

The Terminals: Spark (The Terminals #1) by Michael F. Stewart

Release Date: April 15, 2014
Series: The Terminals, Book 1

Rating: 4 out 5 stars.

Filled with guilt and shame for her act of cowardice, Lt. Col. Christine Kurzow decided to do the world a favor and end her life. She failed and found herself in the hospital. She was then visited by an underground agency, recruiting her to become a handler for a Terminal, someone who goes into the afterlife seeking information to help save countless lives in the living world.

Sending her first Terminal into the afterlife to find information on the abduction of eleven children by a ruthless dead serial killer wasn't going as well as she expected. More and more people are dying with her involvement as questions about the unit's commander began swirling in her mind. Will she be able to save the children in time? Will she find out the real reason she was recruited in the first place?

Another book that I requested to review from NetGalley, I was really wondering how the author was going to pull off the story without a lot of over-the-top antics. From the moment I began the book, it was clear that the author took the telling of this story seriously. I admit, I ended up liking this story a lot more than I initially thought I would. A great surprise, I really am looking forward to other books in the Terminal series as well as checking out some of the author's other works.

As I mentioned, the beginning chapter of the book got right into the action and why the main character, Christine, found herself in a hospital of sorts. Not all of her motives for her actions were made clear at the outset, but her thought process and beliefs were laid bare. It was easy to measure her feelings about herself from them. Despite her nearly constant desire to die, she was a complicated character with a sharp mind that interacted harshly with the other characters. I liked that not all of the other characters were staunchly good or bad. They each held secrets that made them the way they were and it made the story more interesting, in my opinion.

Under the guise of a secret unit which has to answer only to the top level, there were many avenues open for the story to explore. The characters were able to play fast and loose with the laws of the land as they went about their missions due to the freedom they were afforded by the secret status. Having the ability to move outside the law didn't always play in the unit's favor. In fact, on more than one occasion, it worked against them with tragic results and added more fuel to the fiery desire for death that Christine carried with her. Throw in some ghosts, different afterlives and a psychic and you got yourself a plate full of possibilities.

Speaking of the afterlives, I was impressed by the author's explanations of the different versions featured in the book and the exploration of each. I was able to understand many of the tenets of the different faiths he explored in the books without feeling as though the information was being dumbed down or important information was being left out. The visitations were often used to advance the story and they easily kept the story moving at a steady pace. With so many faiths to choose from, I believe the author has so many paths to walk down. The only question will be which one to explore next.

Despite my early worries, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a departure from other books that mixed the paranormal and serial killers in that it brought up so many things to think about. Whether it was a person's right to die, the weight of a soldier's death upon a commander's soul or the almost fanatical desire to ensure a lasting legacy, the author presented a definite thrill ride of a book. Looking for book with action, adventure, heart and soul, then this is the book for you!

The Terminals: Spark (The Terminals #1) by Michael F. Stewart is now available in Kindle format at various online retailers. Purchase your copy from Amazon by clicking the link below.
The Terminals: Spark (The Terminals #1) by Michael F. Stewart

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