I’ve been making an effort to read more books by independent authors this year, both to support indies and also to see what’s going on outside the world of Big House publishing. My focus is usually science fiction, but you will see some other genres pop up here and there. I will be sharing a review every Friday. So if you if you love books, science fiction, and supporting indie authors, be sure to follow along!
Today, I’m reviewing Grinders by C.S. Boyack!
I first discovered author C.S. Boyack through the Story Empire blog, where he is a frequent contributor. After reading a number of helpful posts on storyboarding, I wandered over to his personal blog, Entertaining Stories, and have been happily following along for a couple of years now. I don’t naturally gravitate toward blogs as my social-media of choice and I tend to lurk more than like, comment, and share. However, I do buy books (much faster than I can read them.)
I’ve bought a few of Boyack’s novels this year, and as they pop up in my e-TBR pile, I will be reviewing them here. This is the first!
Indie Book Review: Grinders by C.S. Boyack
When approaching a new-to-me author I do what any self-respecting book browser does. I gravitate toward the prettiest covers. This lead me to the purchase of Grinders and Voyage of the Lanternfish. Who doesn’t love neon lights and deep-ocean creatures, right?
I was in the mood for something in the sci-fi vein more than fantasy, so I started with Grinders.
The Genre-Mashup of My Dreams
I am a shameless detective novel addict. I can’t get enough of them. I love everything from gruesome true crime to ridiculous crime capers, but there’s a special place in my heart for the classic police procedural or detective novel.
Of course, the whole point of Grinders is that Jimi Cabot and her partner Lou are not detectives. They’re just bottom of the barrel beat cops.
The beat, though, is a cyberpunk dream. (Or is it a nightmare?) Set in a futuristic San Francisco full of holographic pop-up ads and illegally cyber-enhanced citizens, Grinders is like “Ghost in the Shell” meets “Law and Order.”
Jimi nearly lost her job after the San Francisco PD discovered a secret from her past, and has been relegated to the Grinder Squad, a go-nowhere department run out of the basement at HQ.
Here, she meets Lou, a seasoned PD vet whose old-school skills have made him obsolete. He’s waiting out the days until his retirement and is a little resentful at getting stuck with the new blood.
There’s a great dynamic between Jimi and Lou as they are forever seeking a balance between her youthful enthusiasm and his cynical realism. Both characters have a lot more going on beyond the job, and Boyack weaves their backstories into the main plot expertly.
Everybody knows that the Grinder Squad is a sham department. Theoretically, their purpose is to crack down on the growing Grinder problem–that is, black market doctors who install illegal cyber-enhancements. But Grinders are notoriously elusive and the PD basically uses it to drum up funds for the rest of the departments. The Grinder Squad gets stuck with the grunt work, while the “real cops” do all the fun stuff.
But Jimi is convinced that if she can bust a Grinder, she’ll redeem herself and save her career. If only she could get Lou on board with her plan!
I loved this book. Grinders bops along at a steady pace, using the characters to drive the plot forward and explore the world without ever falling into the tedious exposition that kills a lot of SF novels.
The funny thing is, Grinders isn’t a fast paced action/thriller but it never feels slow. I got so caught up in the day-to-day tasks of Jimi and Lou, the interesting cast of characters they meet up, and their own personal struggles that I didn’t think a whole lot about the main plot line until suddenly all the connections came together and BAM! It all came together.
Boyack has a great sense of humour. In particular, I loved the way he poked fun at some current social phenomena by exploring where they might go in the future. Cyber shut-ins, crypto currency schemes, political correctness on steroids, and the inevitable result of aggressive helicopter parenting all get stirred into the mix with hilarious results.
I hate that I have to mention this, but I know how some people feel about independent books. I know the fear of spending your hard earned pennies on something that the author hasn’t even bothered to edit.
Fear not, fellow readers!
Grinders is well-written, cleanly edited, and formatted perfectly. You will get nothing less than the best. This is a professional product from an experienced writer, and it shows.
5 Star Review!
If you love science fiction worlds and strong character development, this is the book for you! Grinders will give you a lot to think about, but it’s fun and entertaining and emotionally driven. You aren’t going to get bogged down in a bunch of hard SF technical details and mumbo jumbo. You are going to care deeply about these characters and the fascinating world they live in, and you’re going to love the way everything ties together in the end.
A Note on Reviews:
Did you know that reviews are essential to independent authors’ visibility?
If you buy an indie book, first of all “THANK YOU!” from all of us. It’s a tough go out there competing with big publishing houses and their million dollar marketing plans. Any support you can give us has a huge impact.
Second of all, please leave an honest review on Goodreads and wherever you purchased your copy. Indie authors read your reviews! If you loved it, great! Tell us why so we can try to do it again. If you didn’t, that’s okay, too! Please tell us what didn’t work so that we can keep it in mind for the next book.
**I only review my favourite indie books on the blog. My goal is to support other independent creators and share my platform with positivity. I’m not here to criticize or bring down anyone, so if I read a book that I don’t feel is up to par I will let the author know privately. You will only find 4 and 5 star reviews on this page. Feel free to suggest a book for me to review in the comments!**
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you’ve got in your TBR pile. What do you think of Grinders? Have you read it? Will you? Tell me all the things…