A review of “Parting Shadows (Toccata System, Book 1)” by Kate Sheeran Swed

Parting Shadows (Toccata System Book 1) by [Swed, Kate Sheeran]Full disclosure – I was provided a copy of this book by the authors; however, I have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.

Parting Shadows is scheduled for a July 9,2019 release

Raised to kill

SATIS is Astra’s only family. Adopted by the reclusive AI as a small child, Astra’s only interactions outside of her virtual “mother” and nursebot have been encounters with space pirates lured by SATIS so Astra can kill them.  She is being bred for a purpose – to seek out and kill the human who betrayed her AI protector. Now, after years of isolation and countless hours of conditioning, Astra sets out on her mission. Aboard the academy ship Traveler, with SATIS as her constant companion, Astra enters a world where people are so reliant on tech that they cannot even do simple things for themselves anymore. As Astra locates her target, she struggles with the decision to accomplish her directive or betray the only mother she has ever known in order to be free and live her life for herself. But with SATIS as an ever-present companion, can Astra ever escape the AI’s influence on her life or will SATIS turn her vengeance inward toward her?

Parting Shadows is the first book in the Toccata System series by author Kate Sheeran Swed. In this book, we are introduced to a world sometime in the future where humans are so dependent on tech and artificial intelligence to assist in their daily lives that the line can be easily blurred between real and artificial. From the onset, Swed introduces the suggestion that an AI can be too intelligent, to the point of complex emotions and a desire for domination. And isn’t that truly what most people’s fears with AI are? Astra’s interactions with SATIS depict a person who is dependent on, yet desperately wants to be free from her protector. As the only family she has known, I feel that Astra is truly torn between being on her own or leaving the only thing that has loved her. I also really like how Swed was able to illustrate a world that is not too far removed from our own that it wasn’t too difficult to take a leap and think that the more advanced technology becomes, the more we as a society are headed down this path. Connectivity is great and has opened corners of the world to those who may never physically experience it, but when does it become too much? This thought alone is both exciting and terrifying, and I believe that Swed has done an excellent job addressing the subject.

As Parting Shadows ended, I was hopeful for what is to come. Swed has successfully introduced a world that is as dangerous as it is beautiful, and I am looking forward to seeing what more is in store in Phantom Song, the next novella in the series.


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