Book Review #1: Free Will and other Compulsions

Title: Free Will and Other Compulsions
Author: J. Daniel Sawyer
Publisher: Artistic Whispers
Release Date: September (ebook) and October (paper)

Dan Sawyer is one of my favorite podcast authors. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written and produced. So, when he provided me with the opportunity of an Advanced Reader Copy of Free Will and other Compulsions in return for a review, I jumped at the opportunity.

So on to the review.

Synopsis: Free Will is the sequel to Predestination and other Games of Chance. If you haven’t read or listened to this previous story, you really need to do this as Mr. Sawyer doesn’t provide multiple rehashings of previous material. Free Will picks up the story of Joss Kyle, Ali and Jim Hartman, the Green Lady, Jade and all the rest. It also introduces us to a little run away moon girl and gives us a peek at some (more) of the less pleasant things and people Mr. Sawyer’s future
world might hold for us.

Setting: Free Will takes place in a variety of places and settings. Time is spent aboard ship, on the lunar colony, on station and on earth. All of the settings have their own unique flavor though none of them are given pride of place. These settings are used as the backdrops of the story, but with that exception of Luna city might be interchangeable with other locales. This is not meant as a criticism. In the story Mr. Sawyer is telling, in depth setting building would ruin much of what is good and I’m glad he was wise enough to sense and avoid this.

Grade A-

Plot: Free Will dazzles the literary palette and beguiles the reader with flavors and sensations the most demanding gourmand would compliment. This story’s plot is so full of switchbacks and red herrings that Sherlock Holmes would need a magnifying glass the size of Hubble to deduce the outcome, and still the odds wouldn’t be his favor. Boiled down to the kernel within, the driving motivations of the characters could be looked at as revenge and the drive for freedom. And if this all you walked away with, you missed half the story.

Grade A+

Characters: Mr. Sawyer is one of the few authors I’ve ever read that seems to believe there are no supporting characters. You meet a new character and think, “Ah, a red shirt throw away” only to have it turn out to be pivotal to the entire work. Mr. Sawyer crafts characters rather than writes them. Each one is a jerk in a truly unique way. Yes, I do mean that as it sounds. Mr. Sawyer’s characters show us the nobility of the human form by also showing us the depravity of what we are capable. Characters you were hoping would be killed off by the end of Predestination you’re enamored with half way through Free Will. I don’t believe Mr. Sawyer writes characters that he is hoping his readers will like, I believe he writes characters he hopes will challenge us. And believe me, they did.

Grade A+

Odin’s recommendation: if you’re easily offended or simply looking for brain candy, steer clear of Free Will and Other Compulsions. If on the other hand, you like to be challenged, entertained and amazed, if you like to cheer on the bad guy as he takes on the evil guy, go ahead and save your pennies: Free Will will be available in ebook form September 21 and the paper form on October 15 of this year.

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