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Intensely Focused

I'm not obsessed, I'm just intensely focued.

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Point - Thomas Blackthorne

This is not at all what I expected from the cover or the back of the book, though of course that's not Mr. Blackthorne's fault.

The back of the book suggests a near future soft apocalypse style book. In reality, it's the second book in a series set in the near future which focuses primarily on an ex Ghost Force (elite British soldiers who are as good with computers as they are with combat) member and his hypnotherapist girlfriend (though her job title is slightly different).

I had no idea this was the second book in a series. Consequently, I spent the first quarter or so of the book extremely annoyed because it quickly became clear that it was in fact the second book in a series and Blackthorne expected the readers to be familiar with the characters. Which, of course, I wasn't.

Unfortunately, my unfamiliarity with the characters means the first part of the book had little impact on me. I didn't care about the protagonist's family situation or care if he got along with his girlfriend. As a general rule I find the stoic shove everything in a box and ignore it characters irritating and bland. If the character doesn't let himself feel anything then why should we? We get glimpses but again, since I didn't care about his relationships it made it hard to connect with him.

Susan displays more emotion and spends more time thinking about her feelings and relationships but I didn't find it that much easier to connect with her. I don't care if she stays with Josh or not because Josh feels pretty one dimensional. He fights things and pretty much focuses on that. It's possible there was some great love story in the first book, but in this book we see them cuddling on a couch and then possibly break up. She spends much of the book easily hypnotizing roughly half the people she meets. No one is ever resistant. Apparently all she has to do is match their breathing and speak a certain way and viola. She's a very repetitive one trick pony. I don't think it's that easy to hypnotize someone (at least, I'd hope not) and I have consent issues. Randomly hypnotizing someone on a train to not freak out without asking her if she wants your help is not okay. Yes, it turned out well for the woman in question, but it's still messing with someone's mind without her consent and in a way she not only can't control but she don't realize has happened after. It's a violation and it's not okay.

For a while I wondered if the plot mentioned on the cover and back of the book was even going to be more than a small subplot in the story. It does eventually take over the main plot but not for a really long time.

So if you read the first book you may enjoy this book a lot more, especially if the first book establishes an emotional connection with the characters.

By the way, it turns out Thomas Blackthorne is a pen name for John Meaney. I liked his Tristopolis series (though I think it ended at two books) but as I recall relationships weren't his strong point then, either.