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The Syndicate by Sophie Davis

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Although time travel is outlawed in the 2400's, Stassi works as a Runner for the Syndicate, who procure items from the past to those with the wealth and connections to make requests.
Excited about their new assignment (Paris, 1925), Stassi and her partner Gaige make elaborate plans to find and copy a specific manuscript. But this mission seems much more dangerous than it should be. History isn't playing out as it is meant to, and Stassi and Gaige are going to have to decide what they are willing to do to ensure their own future existing as it should.

✱ pages: 586 (ebook)
✱ series: Timewaves #1
✱ published: March 2016 (indie)
✱ provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Amazon UK  ✱ Amazon US

The cover is pretty cool, and the tag line is "Would you risk the future to save your past?" which was sufficiently Doctor Who-esque for me to want to read this (I have told you I'm a geek and nerd, right?).

At first I idly wondered if this even counted as dystopia. Then I realised they have practically no books left in this future, then I freaked out because actually that seems like a pretty realistic and not just an overly pessimistic prediction, then I decided that I'm going to hoard as many books as I can to save them for the future, then I realised I was already doing that anyway. *ahem.* So I concluded it counted as a work of dystopian fiction... Moving on.

The first chapter sets things into motion nicely, and some necessary explanations are made amidst all the action. Then you get to the set-up and about 6 chapters of information being dumped on you - which I understand but... do we really need all this information at the beginning? It was slightly too much and kind of distracted me from the story. But, once the book got back into the action and intrigue it got a lot better.

Most of the story focuses on Stassi and Gaige in 1920's Paris, getting to know the literary figures of the time in order to find and steal a manuscript. The plot was okay although it moved a bit slowly at first, and I feel like this could have been edited down a bit. My ARC was 500 pages, and especially the beginning wouldn't have really lost anything if some of it was cut off.
The portrayal of all the friendships is probably my favourite thing about the Syndicate. The relationship between besties and roommates Stassi and Molly is quite sweet. I always appreciate a Bechdel moment or two, you know? Stassi and her partner Gaige have a really wonderful dynamic as well, and their banter and childish jokes are actually really fun - and when you add in their boss Cyril to the mix, it just becomes really entertaining.

I've been pretty lucky to pick up some really spectacular reads lately, and I feel like that may be part of why I couldn't get into this one at first. By the time I was halfway through the book though, I'd started to really enjoy it, and it kept picking up speed towards the end. There are still a lot of questions to be answered, and I think I will try to get my hands on the next book in the series when it comes out. One thing that actually made me really happy: the authors have gotten loads better - I remember reading one of their earlier books and not enjoying it. So really, I'm quite impressed: this is a big step up!
If you're willing to overlook the length, the Syndicate is a pretty interesting look at time travel and 1920's Paris. The characters are likeable, there's a smattering of romance, the time travel is science rather than magic, and the book leaves you with some questions to help set up for the next book. After a shaky start, this one really ended up growing on me.
For quite a while I was really thinking this was a solid 3-star read, but I've had to bump it by a half because I did get caught up in it, especially in the last 200 pages or so.
So I'm trying a new thing with my review layout. What do you think, yay or nay? Have you read the Syndicate or another Sophie Davis book? Are you planning to?
Please let me know in the comments :)


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