Review: “Residue,” Steve Diamond

Pros: Interesting premise
Cons: Main character lacks agency; doesn’t make me want to read more
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Steve Diamond’s Residue (Jack Bishop) (Volume 1) follows Jack Bishop, a teenager in high school whose father disappears under mysterious circumstances while working for a company called Helix. He ends up working with Alex (Alexandra), another teen who is way deep into Helix’s business. He discovers she can read minds, and he starts developing the ability to pick up on psychic “residue”. It seems that something(s) escaped on the night that his father went missing, and the pair of teenagers is going to have to work fast to stop the body count from piling up.

I think this is meant to be a horror novel, but it never gave me that shiver that I look for in horror. There are some dark things that happen, sure, but they didn’t feel visceral to me. I never really believed that the main characters were in true danger. That disappointed me. I wanted to feel what was at stake.

The characters are interesting, but aren’t given a whole lot of depth. Alex’s main character traits are “reads minds” and “likes guns a LOT”. Jake… uh… is a nice guy, I guess. We know he’s supposed to grow into some funky powers, but that doesn’t go all that far in this volume. We never get to see what these two are like under “normal” circumstances, so we have nothing to compare to when they’re under fire.

It would be nice if Jake had any real agency in his own story. Instead, he spends nearly the whole time being told what to do by Alex or by a mysterious man they call merely “the Insider”. He doesn’t particularly go off and do anything on his own. He doesn’t instigate much. When he isn’t being told what to do, he mostly waits to be told what to do. Also, the Insider is pretty much a full-time deus ex machina. He sees all, knows all, can accomplish all.

If there’s anything in here that might hold my interest, it’s either the budding relationship between Alex and Jake or the mysterious “Sentinel program” of which Jake is an unknowing part. However, both are barely hinted at here, and it isn’t enough to make me want to seek out and read the next volume.

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