REVIEW: Imminent Dawn, by R.R. Campbell

Title: Imminent Dawn
Series: Empathy Book One
Author: R.R. Campbell
Genre: Sci Fi / Technothriller
LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian
Publisher: NineStar Press
Pages/Word Count: 364
Buy Link: Amazon
Reviewer: CC Bridges

About the Book

Four people. One study. The internet-access brain implant to bind or destroy them all.

Art-school dropout Chandra would do anything to apologize for her role in her wife’s coma—including enroll in the first round of human trials for an internet-access brain implant. At first, the secretive research compound is paradise, the perfect place to distract Chandra from her grief. But as she soon learns, the facility is more prison than resort, with its doctors, support staff, and her fellow patients all bent on hatching plots of their own, no matter how invested they might seem in helping her communicate with her wife.

Making matters worse, a dark wave of uncertainty crashes down on the compound, forcing Chandra to become an unlikely but pivotal player in conspiracies stretching from the highest levels of the North American Union government to the lowest dredges of its shadowy hacking collectives.

To save herself and her wife, Chandra and her newfound friends from the study will have to overcome the scheming of a ruthless tech magnate, the naïveté of an advancement-hungry administrative assistant, and the relentless pursuits of an investigative journalist, all of whom are determined to outpace the others in their own quests to resurrect lost love, cover their tracks, and uncover the truth.

A twistedly delightful clockwork of intrigue and suspense, EMPATHY: Imminent Dawn is an electrifying sci-fi debut from author r. r. campbell.

The Review

Imagine you had a mental internet connection that linked you to everyone else in the world.

Personally, I find the idea rather horrifying. However, in Imminent Dawn, hundreds of people have signed themselves up for a study that does just that. They are given a computer chip in their brain in the hopes of one day being connected to everyone else. The project is called EMPATHY, and the goal is just that – to enable humans to feel empathy for each other.

Chandra has signed up for the study in the hopes of connecting with her wife, who is in a coma. Wracked with guilt, Chandra will do anything to speak with her one last time, including having brain surgery.

But Chandra is one of the lucky ones. The implant works for her, and thus starts the ball rolling at the beginning of this intriguing science fiction novel. 

The other main characters include Meredith, a journalist dedicated to discovering the truth behind EMPATHY; Wyatt, the creator of EMPATHY, who has his own selfish reasons for wanting the project to succeed; and April, one of the workers on the study’s campus. Each of them plays a different role in this story. I have to say I was not fond of Meredith. I felt like I was supposed to be rooting for her, but her poor choices kept making her less and less likeable for me..

The author, r.r. campbell, is doing interesting things here with the concept of human connection. The idea that we need some kind of technological interface in order to truly feel empathy for other human beings is a fascinating concept, and takes a frank look at what society has become. 

There is a beautiful scene that demonstrates this in the book, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it is a brief moment that encapsulate this concept. Due to the implant, all of Chandra’s fellow lab rats can feel her guilt and grief. And that, that is what humanity needs, true empathy.

A few caveats – the book isn’t solely about Chandra, and I really wished for more with her, because she was the character I found most relatable. As this is the first in a series, the novel ends with questions, that will hopefully be answered in the next book, which sounds like it takes the baton and keeps running based on the preview.

Lastly, there is one thing I feel I have to warn for. There is a dog in this book and (spoiler warning) although the dog is technically alive at the end of the book, it is implied that he won’t be for long. 

If you are looking for an intriguing science fiction novel that explores the connections humans sometimes fail to make with each other, then you can’t go wrong with Imminent Dawn.

About the Reviewer: CC Bridges is a mild-mannered librarian by day, but by night she writes about worlds of adventure and romance. When she’s not busy solving puzzles in an escape room, she can be found diving into comics or binge-watching superhero movies. She writes surrounded by books, spare computing equipment, a fluffy dog, and too many board games to count. In 2011, she won a Rainbow Award for best gay sci-fi/futuristic novel with Angel 1089.  

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