My judging team in the second annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC2) has sampled all 28 books in our first round allotment and narrowed them down to eight quarterfinalists for the entire team to read in full. Our next step is to score those eight quarterfinalists and select three semifinalists to send to two other judging teams for further reading and one more round of cuts before the finals begin in May.
As you read our quarterfinal reviews, keep in mind that all of us have our own idiosyncratic tastes, and a book hitting for one of us doesn’t mean it will hit for all of us. On the other hand, a book missing for one of us doesn’t mean it’s not well worth reading, and every entry that’s made it this far has earned at least one of our recommendations.
Today, we’ll be discussing Syn City: Reality Bytes by Lewis Knight, a cyberpunk thriller that sees a rebel-turned-reluctant-law-enforcement-agent working to track down a virtual reality addict with dangerous abilities.
Jay’s Review and Rating
Syn City: Reality Bytes is a fast-paced, fun cyberpunk thriller. There’s a bit of a wobble at the outset and at the close, but it’s definitely still worth a look for fans of the subgenre.
Jay has rated Syn City: Reality Bytes 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Josh’s Review and Rating
The book is solid at setting up both characters, even as it tries a bit too hard with its cyberpunk setting – so many characters wearing bondage type gearhere – and I was intrigued with its plotting and ideas of VR addiction, fights for freedom, and conspiring and plotting characters. But it’s also unfortunately an incomplete book, with the story ending just after the two leads have joined forces, something you’ll be waiting for all book, and ending on a major cliffhanger.
Josh has rated Syn City: Reality Bytes 6/10. For more detail, check out his full review.
Matt’s Review and Rating
With Syn City, Lewis Knight takes the reader on an purposely exaggerated action adventure lovingly dressed in equal influence by the blaxploitation, pulp romance and cyberpunk thriller genres. It never put me over the moon technically, but the author earnestly never aimed to. Instead, Knight penned a fun character duo in a slick futuristic setting that is overtly teased to lead onward. Its brevity and pace make it a good bit of back pocket escapism, just as intended.
Matt has rated Syn City: Reality Bytes 6/10.
Sarah’s Review and Rating
Syn City: Reality Bytes by Lewis Knight is a fast-paced cyberpunk novel that hooked me right away. The writing is very immersive with a good blend of exposition and action that kept me engaged. I enjoyed Knight’s lush, figurative descriptions of this tech and VR-obsessed society and those navigating it. I do think the ending could’ve been stronger, but it didn’t take away from my overall experience (and the bonus P.S. chapter was a nice touch).
Sarah has rated Syn City: Reality Bytes 7.5/10. For more detail, check out her full review.