Review: “Intercepts,” T.J. Payne

Pros: Surprisingly good story takes some interesting turns
Rating: 5 out of 5

T.J. Payne’s Intercepts: A horror novel is several types of horror novel in one. People are being held at the Facility, where they’re being used as “antennas” to intercept some sort of information. They’re believed to be vegetables with no real awareness, so their keepers aren’t particularly worried about how the process affects them. They, however, are suspended in a hideous darkness without end, until they experience unimaginable pain whenever they’re “tuned”. One of them, known as Bishop, managed to overhear the name of the supervisor in charge of the project: Joe Gerhard. She’s determined to destroy him and everything he loves, and she’s developing the ability to do just that. Joe, for his part, is a pretty genial guy. His people like and respect him. He isn’t the expected sadist or sociopath; he’s trying to do his part to protect his country. Things go off the rails, however, when his ex-wife kills herself and leaves behind Joe’s 16-year-old daughter, Riley. Riley sees something terrifying in Joe’s house–a woman screaming and tearing her own skin off. But no one else sees the woman, and it’s put down to Riley having just lost her mother.

I think of this novel as three types of horror in one. Looked at from Bishop’s point of view, this is a horror novel about government experiments gone awry and the horrible, inhumane conditions in which she and her fellow Antennas are being kept. It’s a novel of escape and revenge. From Joe and Riley’s point of view, this is a haunting, in which people are being driven insane by mysterious visions. And from the view of the Facility and its workers on the whole, this is a “what have we created?!” flee-from-the-dangerous-experimental-subjects tale. Somehow it works on all of these levels. I’m horrified by what was done to Bishop and the others. I’m sympathetic to Joe, and want the best for Riley. I want the various workers at the Facility to make it out alive.

The characters are excellent. Javi, an inspector from the Company that runs the Facility, is probably the closest thing the book has to a bad guy. Dr. Hannah Chao is a sympathetic character despite what she’s involved in doing. Joe, in particular, is interesting–he’s the quintessential bureaucratic bad guy turned into a kind of hero. I think at some point I ended up sympathizing with and/or rooting for nearly every side in this book.

I really enjoyed this book!

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