Genre: Sci Fi
Date of Publication: 1st March 2016
I feel like there is a really big gap in YA for well written, fun Sci Fi with an interesting concept. The Syndicate definitely goes some way towards filling this void for me.
Firstly, the characters are immensely fun. Stassi is passionate, smart, quick witted but also very human. Her reactions aren’t always perfect but they’re very relatable. She makes a great double act with her Partner, Gaige (who is the atypical smart ass Casanova with a heart of gold). I would like there to be more characterization of Molly in further books – for a best friend and cornerstone of Stassi’s life she featured surprisingly little. As for Charles DuPree…he was a perfect addition to the gang, with his 1920’s manners and interactions providing great balance to the modern perspectives of the rest. His romance with Stassi lent The Syndicate some really nice lightness and was handled in a really sweet way.
I also really enjoyed the building of the Father / Daughter relationship with Stassi and Cyrus. I thought it was a really sweet way to flesh Cyrus out. A boss who is very business minded and keeps a stern eye on the rules could be problematic, but here he is nicely softened by his relationship with Stassi. Both Cyrus and The Syndicate itself are things which I would love to hear more about in future installments – their pasts could be fascinating mysteries to be solved!
The plot was a lot of fun, and understandably there’s a lot left open to interpretation due to the fact that sequels are planned. However a small criticism would be that at times I felt there might just be a little too much going on….with the Blues Canyon story line, the serial killer on the loose, the missing Runner and then Stassi’s locket on top…it all felt very busy at times. That’s not including all the relationships being built up in the background of it all! I could have done with less locket and more serial killer – but perhaps that’s my morbid side speaking! Perhaps in future books the time travel aspect can be showcased more effectively by slim-lining plot points – it made the ending start to feel a little rushed as the writers battled to wrap up what was required whilst teasing what was to come.
This ties in with the villain of the piece, who was a massive let down and is why The Syndicate is rated four stars instead of five. Whilst our heroes were fun and engaging, the villain felt a bit uninspired – there was too much going on for them to be more than a very faint shadow, as opposed to a looming specter of doom. The build up to their identity’s reveal is lackluster, and I felt like many opportunities to create a really interesting plot twist were completely overlooked in favor of something which ultimately felt very bland.
However that is a small niggle amidst a great deal of great. Overall this is a really fun, imaginative read that’s been left on an intriguing cliffhanger- I’ll definitely be tuning in for the sequel!