Fiction - Science Fiction
270 Pages
Reviewed on 12/07/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Shunt by Jason Arsenault is a science fiction tale of planet earth in the near future. PrimaCorp has developed a technology that allows humans to swap their unwanted thoughts and tendencies with someone else on the planet via the use of a small shunt surgically implanted in their necks and connected directly to the neural pathways in their brains. As with any technology, when the military sees a potential use for it, things can become problematic, and often ethics and common decency can fly right out the window. Jade is a young woman who had been fitted with just such a shunt to help her overcome the extreme grief and anguish she was struggling with over the murder of her little brother, a death she blamed herself for not preventing. The shunt seemed like a perfect solution for her until she starts experiencing weird dreams and believes they are linked to her surrogate’s thoughts. Hiring a hacker friend to discover her surrogate’s name and address, she determines to track him down and find out what is really happening. This will lead her on a chase around the world where she will uncover a major conspiracy between PrimaCorp, the government, the military, and one particular rogue employee high in the PrimaCorp structure.

Shunt is disturbingly and chillingly realistic, which makes it all the more fascinating. Author Jason Arsenault has crafted a tale that twists and turns in the best thriller/whodunit style. I particularly enjoyed trying to match the different characters from various arcs in the story to each other. Who was who’s surrogate was a feature of the plot. This is a fast-paced and exciting action story that drags the reader along, caught up in the excitement of what will happen next. I did like Jade as the lead character. Naivety and gentleness in her character made it easy to identify with her and empathize with the awful pain and suffering she had endured, blaming herself for her brother’s death. The idea of these shunts did not seem too far-fetched at all and certainly didn’t tax the believability factor of the story. The author was clearly knowledgeable or had researched well the concept and the possibility of such a product being developed. The idea of replacing our “bad” impulses with “good” ones from someone else was appealing but the question the story raises so eloquently was – where do those “bad” impulses end up and what effect do they have on the surrogate receiving them? In a world dominated by high-tech and the all-important algorithm, this is a timely story to perhaps remind ourselves that we tamper with creation at our own peril. An excellent read that I can highly recommend.

Steven Robson

Shunt by Jason Arsenault is a vision of a future world seen through the eyes of Jade Hilt; a young woman whose little brother was murdered in circumstances for which she feels some accountability. This is a dissonant world divided into Commonwealths of East and West, torn by an ongoing war of convenience, and an overcrowded population struggling to deal with the extinction of species and resources. An apparent solution to all of these problems seems to have been found by a mega-corporation called PrimaCore, where the adage 'opposites attract' seems to have precipitated their spinal shunt technology, which results in opposites being attached through online neural links; the premise being that opposing personalities will balance the two individuals connected beneficially. As Jade adjusts to her newfound confidence and emotional stability, gained through her new spinal shunt, she watches as human nature takes its inevitable course; a journey into a future of unimaginable dangers and hazards we may not survive.

Jason Arsenault’s Shunt is quite a ride. This is a story containing fresh ideas and concepts that will provoke the imagination of the reader in new directions. I became particularly engaged with the idea of trying to picture what my surrogate shunt partner would be, and how that connection would change my life. Shunt not only tackles new frontiers, but does so with genuine characters that have real grit; one of my favorites was Manne, who not only carried a subsurface layer of danger, but also a sense of inevitable doom mixed with ongoing hope for a better future, wrapped in intelligence beyond belief. I would highly recommend Shunt for those looking for fresh adventure on a global scale, with a number of diverse subplots and a thrilling climax that I didn’t foresee. Congratulations to the author on a great book.

Foluso Falaye

In Shunt by Jason Arsenault, you can run from your emotions but can't hide from them. With more than a billion users worldwide, PrimaCore Industries is known for providing moderate to satisfactory relief for all types of suffering through their implants. Their customers usually uplink their disturbing emotions, which are then released inside an anonymous opposite surrogate. However, Jade, who got the implants to reduce the pain she felt over the loss of her brother, decides to locate her surrogate as she is having vivid memories of her deceased little brother, which could only have come from his murderer’s perspective. From a sociopathic priest to a soldier who despises being empathetic, an overweight cop, and even drug addicts, each character in Shunt has an internal battle to face or switch with another through an uplink.

I love it when a book successfully projects a world with a completely different way of life. This is what I love about sci-fi, and Shunt is a brilliant example. While reading the book, I was contemplating the idea of exchanging temperaments with others, and it was greatly entertaining. Different problems and scenarios that could arise from the concept are brought to light through the characters, including a conflict of interest and thought-provoking dilemmas. If you don't like stories with a broad view that switches between several main characters, you might not find the book enjoyable. Nevertheless, Jason Arsenault's narrative will appeal to readers who love large stories with several themes, like sociopathy, drug addiction, corruption, war, LGBTQ+, murder, futuristic technology, Catholicism, politics, and much more. I immensely enjoyed the creative concepts and the climactic, action-packed narrative in Shunt.