Review – Michael Wessel’s The Singular Illusion
The Singular Illusion is a psychological fantasy thriller in a very literal sense in that it uses the brain as both a tool and a weapon. The premise is built on the idea that humans use only 10% of their brains and the other 90% is inhabited by the “soul”. For some, that soul does not exist, usually through being killed off in some traumatic event, and they are the Singularities. They use the rest of their brains in ways normal humans couldn’t even imagine, building and manipulating , achieving their full potential but always at the risk of destruction so for the most part, singularities keep themselves to themselves. However, there is a newer group of rogue singularities, called The Sect, intent on destabilising the world in many ways, forcing the other Singularities out into the world to interact with souls and keep the world a calm place. With me so far?
This book follows Matt, just finishing high school and talked into throwing a big end of year party by the popular girl in school, Tawny. The party goes ahead, with disastrous results and Matt is left homeless and alone, his parents dead and his friends denying they know him. Wait… what? Tawny, you see, is a Singularity. And so, it appears, is Matt, although he doesn’t know it. Matt is recruited, after a lot of explanation, by another Singularity, the old man next door, and has his latent singularity abilities honed by a team in intense sessions of physical and mental training until he is ready for his first assignment – to kill one of The Sect. This however, is only a fore-runner to the main reason for his recruitment and a major assignment that only he can complete…
This was a fascinating book and I can’t really believe it is a first novel because it is very well thought out and written. The action is fast paced, with a lock of surprising twists and the characters, especially Matt himself, are very engaging. More than that though, I loved the basic idea of it. The brain is a vastly under-used thing and yes, “what if” we unlocked the full potential? The training that Matt went through in the book was detailed enough to be believable that such potential is possible, so much so that it made me go and research the power of meditation as a way of focussing the mind. The only issue I really had was with the idea of the “soul” inhibiting a human and that, in order to achieve greatness, it is implied that you are “soulless”. I also found the ending to be abrupt and left me wanting more but I am led to believe this is the first book in a trilogy, in which case hopefully that “more” will be delivered very soon.
***** 4 1/2 Stars!!!