At the spry age of forty-two, I must confess to being highly offended by The Price of Freedom: Lost Souls (henceforth referred to as simply Lost Souls for brevity) describing a thirty-six-year-old as “old.” Granted, most of this comes from the character’s counterpart calling him ‘old man’ throughout the book, but I rest my case. I really do.
While the previous paragraph may be overstating my offence (just by a little), it serves as an introduction about some of the strange elements in Thorpe’s Lost Souls. Some of these oddities can be attributed to the author’s storytelling predilections—which is in no way a bad thing—while others may result from elements that Thorpe will explore in subsequent entries into his The Price of Freedom series, in which Lost Souls comprises the first. For those of you who are skeptical about buying the first entry of an ongoing series, fret not: Lost Souls is largely standalone.
The standalone nature of Lost Souls adds to the strange energy within the book. The story is rather high concept, including elements and ideas such as a futuristic Cyberpunk-esque dystopia, artificial intelligence, and a multiverse consisting of multiple timelines. Many of these elements are touched upon or discussed, but not explored further. In the context of this novel (which thus far does not have its second volume published), many of these elements add noise to what is, at its core, a fairly simple story.
Despite the said noise, Lost Souls is a brisk read at an estimated 192 Kindle swipes, which I read in a single sitting in under two hours—a lovely lazy Sunday afternoon, in which I am currently following up with writing this review (but by the time you’re reading this, it will be a couple of weeks later). At its core, Lost Souls tells the story of Kayla Sorensen, a “mechanical girl,” and Kenneth Sparks, a freedom fighter. Told through Kayla’s perspective, Lost Souls is a tale of unrequited love, a tale about a girl pining for the person she loves, a story about someone looking for that happily ever after with her Prince Charming.
It is this love story which is an incredibly genuine delight, and the crux of Thorpe’s tale. Both Kayla and Kenneth are well-drawn characters, with their own dreams and goals, despite being inexorably linked to one another. As these two live together in a warehouse, they are the closest people to each other (and yes, despite Kayla being mechanical, she is very much a person). Kayla, particularly, is a stand-out character. She has her dreams, her goals, and her fears, which are constantly playing on her. She desperately wants to be human, and tries her very best to learn how to be human. And she struggles with displaying empathy—a very human trait that is difficult to understand when your programming is literal programming, made up of ones and zeroes. These characteristics make Kayla an incredibly relatable character: her efforts at learning to become human are an experience that us humans often deal with as we try to make our way in the world. She also feels isolated, thanks to her lack of organic nature, which is again, many people feel thanks to differences between them and others.
This, however, leads to some of the strangeness peppered throughout Lost Souls. Kayla is a mechanical girl; advanced technology beyond humanity’s current capabilities (which may, indeed, be enough to answer my concern); completely artificial intelligence. Yet she feels love, she has emotions, and is just as real as you and I. The book provides no real explanation behind this, and if it is something that all A.I. experiences, or whether Kayla is an exception to the rule. Further, Kayla often discusses being able to see across the entire multiverse, as well as different versions of Kenneth and herself, along with differing relationships (however, they are always together). Beyond this, the book does very little to explore multiple realities. As The Price of Freedom continues, I would love to see this explored further.
Earlier in this review, I mentioned how quickly I finished reading the book. This is definitely in part due to the cut-down nature of Thorpe’s story, but it is also related to the language choices he has made. The language used is fairly simple, and therefore incredibly readable. While using simple language can negatively impact the prose by removing its flavour, Thorpe has included some great turns of phrase, which elevate it. Additionally, the book has a wonderful sense of humour, that kept eliciting chuckles as I read it. The one major element that lets this prose down, however, is the number of typos. This leads me to think that another round or two of editing and proofreading could have lifted the book.
Despite these issues, however, Thorpe brings a beautiful sense of joy and fun to his writing, and as a result, Lost Souls is a rollicking good time. If you don’t mind some oddities, if you enjoy science fiction, if you like romance of a slightly different flavour, you will find a lot to enjoy in the book. Just be aware that there is some additional noise in Lost Souls that may or may not pay off in subsequent volumes, and that you will be able to look past the editing.
“But eventually, I didn’t have to do that, Kayla. You went and figured all these things by yourself. Because no matter how artificial you may [be] on the outside as well as in, that spark of humanity burns the brightest in you. That is your soul, girl. Your soul is what connects the two of us together in this reality. Now, I don’t know whether we each will have our happily ever afters—like they do in the princess novels you like read or the movies that we manage to still find after all this time, but I don’t want you to live out your eternal life filled with regret—even if Mother does have plans for you. Or me, for that matter. I imagine I’ve been on her shit list for a while now.”The Price of Freedom: Lost Souls, Chapter 12
The Price of Freedom: Lost Souls was provided by the author.
Lost Souls is available for Kindle, exclusively to Amazon.
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