Monday, August 27, 2012

Jacob Gowans - Psion Beta

Psion Beta 
Psion Series

By Jacob Gowans 

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Sammy, a 14-year-old fugitive, accidentally discovers he has the powers of a Psion.

Plucked off the streets, he is thrust into the rigorously-disciplined environment of Psion Beta headquarters. As a new Beta, Sammy must hone his newfound abilities using holographic fighting simulations, stealth training missions, and complex war games. His fellow trainees are other kids competing to prove their worth so they can graduate and contribute to the war effort.

But the stifling competition at headquarters isolates Sammy from his peers. Learning to use his incredible powers is difficult enough, but when things go horribly wrong on a routine training mission, he must rely on the other Betas to stay alive.

The Silent War is at a tipping point; even one boy can be the difference.

But to do so, he must survive.

About the Author (from Amazon)

About the Author
Jacob Gowans is a resident of Arizona, working as a dentist for the Indian Health Services. He is husband to a beautiful wife, Kat, and father to three children. When not working or writing, he enjoys watching sports, reading YA novels or the works of Stephen King, running, and chasing his kids around the house.

Psion Beta and Gamma are his first novels, and he is currently working on three projects: Psion Delta (Psion Series #3), Flight from Blithmore (The Storyteller's Tale Volume One), and an untitled story about clones. His favorite band is Angels and Airwaves. His favorite book is Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and thinks the greatest film ever made is Dead Poets Society.

He was raised in Papillion, Nebraska, served a two-year mission in Baltimore, graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater studies, and moved to Cleveland shortly thereafter for dental school at Case Western Reserve University.

He roots for BYU football and basketball, the New York Yankees,and Jimmer.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

Psion Beta has a solid and compelling beginning.  Futuristic Sci-Fi is among my top 10 favorite genre’s, and right out of the shoot, you are sucked into the story.  After a while, the bickering and language started to get to me, but then there was a major turn in the story and the “plot thickened”.   You get to know the boy as “Brains” from the start.  Sammy is 14, and has been living in an abandoned grocery store with a small band of other boys for several months.  To wile away the time, they play war games – setting up teams and trying to take each other out.  Sammy is a bit of a show off, and fiercely independent.  It was his ingenuity that allowed him and his friends to escape the home for boys  where they lived, or more realistically, were held as a sort of prison for children who were troublemakers or unwanted, called “The Grinder”.

As the story progresses, you learn that Sammy wasn’t always a fugitive street brat.  Until quite recently, he had lived as an only child of two loving parents in a nice home.  Sammy’s story is a sub plot that slowly unfolds through the book, and helps make sense of Sammy’s attitude.

On this day, Sammy was winning the game, until one of his buddies caught him off guard and Sammy fell from the ceiling.  But as he fell, something strange happened, but no one seemed to believe him.  The event is lost with the arrival of pizza ... stolen pizza.  The boys were hungry, and the unguarded boxes had proved too much of a temptation ... of course this quickly leads to the police, or Shocks, finding their hide out.

Sammy is the main character, and he is one you just want to shake some sense into ... quite often.   He has a knack for getting onto the bad side of most people, but once he has decided to call you a friend, he is also deeply loyal.  He doesn’t trust easily, and he is super smart.  While trying to escape the Shocks, Sammy does something that is unexpected, and earns him the notice of a special group of people – the elite.

In the second chapter, Feet and Sammy hide out in a church, helped by an old man named Amos.  While they are sleeping, they are discovered, and in spite of Sammy’s best efforts, they are captured.  But Sammy is not returned to the Grinder as expected – instead he arrives at a special school for a handful of teens that have a genetic anomaly that give them “super powers”.  Sammy is given a chance to go back to school, it turns out to be somewhat of a military school.

Queue the gorgeous girl, unlikely side kick room mate, the father figure general in charge who has something to hide, and several hot heads of competition who hate being beat by a young upstart who doesn’t know how to be a team player ... and you pretty much have the bulk of the second part of the story.

There are many parts of this book that I really enjoyed, especially watching Sammy “grow up” and learn to love and trust again.  There are several characters that are reasonably well developed for being an action adventure book.  While the plot is the driving force, with enough surprises to keep the pages turning by themselves, especially in the beginning and ending thirds of the book.   This part of the book is slightly less about plot, and more about setting the stage and developing a working relationship between some of the characters.

On the other hand, there are many secrets revealed in this section.  Sammy’s background, and how he went from loving protected son to a wanted fugitive in a year.  Who are these special force group and what do they do?  The government is nothing like Sammy had been taught existed, and there are those who poses another genetic anomaly that turns them into something of a super zombie like fighter, they feel little to no pain, have nearly limitless reserves of power and strength, heightened senses, and incredibly fast reflexes.  They also hunt in a pack.   Everything that they are doing in the school and their war and fighting exercises, is to prepare them to fight these people.

Sammy excels, and during the third part of the book, he is invited on a special mission that is suppose to be in and out fast without even a tiny bit of danger ... and then things go very wrong, and instead, the kids are fighting for their lives.

While this is not my style of book, too much fighting and bloodshed and body parts, I found it very difficult to put down most of the time.  It isn’t a short book, at nearly 400 pages, but I found myself drawn in and loosing an hour or two without noticing on many occasions, and then I finished the book in a “stay up all night” stint after the 3rd day.   If not for the violence, I would have really enjoyed it.  I especially liked the way Sammy grew up during the story.

The end leaves the story dangling, so I did pull up the second book, Psion Gamma, to read the previews and reviews and was somewhat disappointed in the direction it seemed to take there.  A third book, Psion Delta, is currently being written.

There are some formatting issues for the Kindle, as well as a few odd sounding turn of words and editing issues.  For those who edit books while they read, this may be quite distracting.   Many of the reviews commented that it was a similar story to “Ender Games”, which I have not read.

Note:   Some parts of this are quite violent, lots of killing and exploding body parts, the language was rougher, more crass, and more suggestive than I liked, but the reading level is low enough that a 10 year old should be able to read it easily.  Even though there is a romance, there is a strict hands off policy that is enforced.  While I wouldn’t give this to my Jr. High child due to the crass language and gory violence, several of the reviewers commented that their elementary child enjoyed the book.

Genre/Theme:   Post Apocolyptic (2080’s), Sci-fi, Advanced Humans, Martial Arts/War Games, Genetic Alterations, Coming of Age

Reading Level:  Teen/ Mature TEEN – jr. high school to college
Profanity: MODERATE - mild words & a few stronger expletives   (Lots of milder words) to
HIGH - many instances of strong language   (Not as much stronger language, but lots of suggestive language and gestures as well)
Sexuality: MILD - descriptions of affection/desire   (Romance  between 2 characters at the school – hands off)
Other: This is a very war like setting, one type of human has a gene that makes them manic compulsive to enjoy killing, but also oblivious to pain.   The main character is not a real team player, and has a “chip on his shoulder”.  He has suffered much in his short 14 year life.    Somebody commits suicide.


  1. Hi, this is Jacob Gowans. Thanks for your review. I appreciate your candor about the language and the violence. I also understand your sensitivity. I tried to be honest about the way "rough" kids would speak without being explicit. I also tried to portray war and battle as frankly as I could without being over the top. I feel that doing anything less would be dishonest, though I do try to avoid being unnecessarily bloody. Again, thanks and best wishes to you.

  2. Best wishes to you as well Jacob.

    I write my reviews as a parent, so I mention things that I would want to know before loading a book onto my young readers Kindle or purchasing a book. Some of us have a very detailed imagination - and it was quite easy to see the action while I read your book.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Sammy and watching him develop as a character. And as a homeschooling parent, I found the educational part of the book quite interesting.


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