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Friday, November 8, 2019

Construct by Luke Matthews (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)



Order Construct over HERE (USA) & HERE (UK)

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: An unabashed geek, Luke is a fervent reader, poker player, cinephile, board and video gamer, and comic book fan. A life filled with so many hobbies doesn’t lend itself to easy devotion to a craft, but when the beginnings of CONSTRUCT found the page, those words pulled him inexorably toward writing, now the primary passion in his life.

Luke lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, a lazy cat, and two rambunctious German wirehaired pointers. You can find more of his words on his blog at geekelite.geekerific.com, or check out his board game upgrade obsession at www.pixelartmeeple.com!

FORMAT/INFO: Construct is 374 pages long and is the first book of the Chronicler Saga. The book was self-published by the author in 2014. Cover art by Carmen Sinek.  

OVERVIEW: Better late than never. It took me almost two years to read Construct. Don’t repeat my mistake. If you already have this book in your library, start reading it. If you don’t, consider getting a copy.

Here’s why.

Samuel is a construct - an animated anthropomorphic being magically created from inanimate matter. He looks ancient, but it’s difficult to say for sure as Samuel’s memories were wiped out. He doesn’t know who he is, where he came from and what’s his history. One thing is sure, though. Samuel isn’t a regular construct. He experiences genuine emotions - the one thing that no construct is supposed to be capable of. Additionally, he’s tormented by flashbacks and visions of a gruesome murder and premonitions of his death.

Construct is, essentially, the story of self-discovery of a unique protagonist. While the plot is rather linear and straightforward, there’s a good deal of twists and surprises. Good guys are chased for unknown reasons. To stop the bad guys, they have to learn to trust each other, discover forgotten past, and survive. There’s also a murder mystery that needs to be solved to discover why a pair of cruel and relentless hunters pursue Samuel.

The writing is clear, well-edited and utilitarian. Also, it’s very directed and purposeful. There were very few places where I could have said that something in the book might not be essential to the story at large. There’s no filler here.

Samuel is a strong, memorable protagonist. Despite being a construct, he acts intelligently and feels how things really are. Intellectually, it’s fascinating that an artificial, non-biological system gives rise to conscious experience. Emotionally, it’s incredible that it’s so easy to relate to this strange, magically animated creature that looks for answers amidst people who treat constructs as a property. Samuel will need to decide if he can trust others and his relations with people are an essential part of the story.

Secondary characters feel distinct, but compared to Samuel, they remain slightly underdeveloped. On the other hand, his three main “side-kicks” have compelling backstories, and I want to learn more about them. Especially about Jacob - a thief with translocation powers (a sort of teleportation), and Eriane - a gunslinging teenage girl with anger management issues.

Both Villains are terrifying and nicely sketched. While their motivations aren’t too deep and they lack complexity, they’re effectively terrifying. Not only are they cruel, but they also have some dope magical powers. Some scenes involving villains, like the one in which protagonists and villains observe each other with hatred through a snowstorm, may feel a bit cliche, but trust me, they immerse the reader in a way good action movies do.

I rarely appreciate irredeemable villains because of their flatness. Here, though, both bad guys remain terrifying without being ridiculous. That said, I feel characterization could be better. When I think back at them, they’re portrayed as a sort of villains who drown puppies recreationally, and there’s not much more to them.

The ending is satisfying and doesn’t involve any nasty cliffhanger but it leaves many questions unanswered.

Why does Pare hate guns that much?

What’s the deal with him, anyway?

Despite some minor complaints, Construct is absolutely worth the read and the purchase. I’m surprised it doesn’t get more hype.


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