Toys Review
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It seems that there’s nothing James Patterson won’t try. Crime thrillers, non-fiction, supernatural romance, graphic novels, kids’ books…he’s done it all. Now, for Toys, he teams up with co-author Neil McMahon for a futuristic sci-fi chase thriller.

In 2061, the country is under the control of Elites—state of the art human hybrids that have been enhanced to be just about perfect in every way. And Hays Baker is one of the nation’s finest—a major player in the Agency of Change.

Everything changes for Hays when he’s called in to investigate the murder of 11 Elites at a Toyz store, a store selling robots and lifelike toys (like the new Jacob and Jessica dolls) and simulation machines. The investigation sends him on a chase that leads to some disturbing news: Hays Baker is human.

Hays is stunned by the news. His wife is devastated—and disgusted. And, for the Agency, the news makes him a criminal—and his crimes are worthy of the dreaded Slow Death. But Hays manages to escape, and he soon learns that his whole life has been a lie—and the planet could be in serious danger.

Imagine Jason Bourne with super-human abilities (like the ability to run 40 miles an hour or more), battling robots and clones while racing away in a flying car (one that serves up cocktails and shiatsu massages). That’s Hays Baker. He’s super-smart, enhanced for speed and combat, and he’s being chased by all kinds of bad guys that he once thought were his friends.

Like most Patterson thrillers, Toys is a simple adventure that moves even faster than its mechanically-enhanced hero. It isn’t the typical sci-fi novel; it isn’t geeky or intricately detailed, and the plot isn’t especially complex. Instead, it’s more like sci-fi for beginners—or for people who don’t usually like sci-fi. It’s flashy and fast-paced, with cool futuristic cars and plenty of hot chicks (real, robotic, and cloned). In fact, it has a kind of adolescent feel to it. It’s the kind of thing that young boys would absolutely love—though it’s way too suggestive for young readers.

The story, meanwhile, is swift and imaginative—though some of the major plot points feel strangely similar to a partially-animated film from the last couple of years (I won’t say which one, though, because that would give too much of the story away for the few of you who actually saw it). And while Patterson’s novels move along as quickly as they do because they’re light on development, a little more development would have been nice this time around. Readers get hints about the events that led to the rise of the Elites, but the details are sketchy—and they’re the kind of things that would make for interesting reading.

If you’re looking for a smart sci-fi thriller with a detailed plot, this isn’t it. You’ll most likely be frustrated by the thin plot and lack of details. But if you’re in the mood for a light (and lightning-fast) adventure to read at the gym (or by the pool), Toys is a decent pick.

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