Toxic Effects by Joel Shulkin

smilesgiggle's review

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The beginning of this book was pretty intense - lots of action; I was totally clueless. The unfolding of the plot - spectacular!
Christina Silva lands a research job - Longwood Memory Center. This allows Christina to research her own memory issues, her dual personalities warring for dominance.
Wilson is called to the scene of a dead teen - tragic case. His behavior had been erratic, including a tense situation at his school. As Wilson digs deeper, he discovers another teen missing. Connected by a supplement supposedly able to enhance test performance.
A terrifying plot - what have you forgotten? Shulkin uses our own fears regarding our forgotten memories to build the suspense and obsession with this story!

bookishnerdmom's review

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The premise of the novel is quite intriguing. A mad scientist type v. a smart female lead. Action packed, thrilling, and suspenseful. While hitting all of these buttons I did find it missing the mark in other areas for me.

First off- there are a LOT of characters to keep track of here. I suggest using book darts or post its to keep track of who is who and their relationships to one another. The reader is pummeled early on with a barrage of players and zero to no character development. To be fair- this is the second book in the series. With a quick reference to notes this is not much of an issuer.

Next, I did find the drugs mentioned in this novel (fictional drugs) lacked a comprehensive description. I would have preferred a deeper dive into the theoretical mechanisms of said drugs.

I really enjoyed the cop drama trope as I got a Black List/ NYPD Blue vibe from the book.

However, much of this scientific thriller felt hurried and hastily put together- more like a rough draft than a final project. Where is the editing? More pages and less chapters (91 chapters!) should have served well here.

Overall, it reads like a script not a novel for me but I was entertained and the book has me thinking about how easy it would be for something like this to happen IRL.


dapperreads's review against another edition

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This just isn’t for me. I can see where this could be enjoyable for some but I was over it pretty quickly. 

Did I finish it? Yeah, I did but I can’t say I liked it at all. It started weird, ended fine and the middle was pretty boring. I hate to say that I just didn’t care who was killing the teens. I actually didn’t even want to know, I just wanted it to end. And then it did but idk. It’s just not for me. 

romance_matcha_andpaperbacks's review

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mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


This is book #2 in The Memory of Thieves series.

bookanonjeff's review against another edition

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Complex Story With More Action Than Medical. I came into this book after having won an ARC of it in the Readers Coffeehouse (Facebook group) Great Big Book Giveaway Day 2022 and having not read Book 1 (Adverse Effects). Honestly, with the amount of story that happened before this book began (that gets repeatedly referenced when necessary here - in case anyone wants to avoid spoilers from that book), it seemed like this book was *much* deeper into the series than just Book 2. I honestly thought this was somewhere in the Book 3 - 5 range as I was reading it.

And while the overall story here is absolutely more action based than medical - though there is certainly a major medical mystery happening - and *is* very complex (more complex than say a typical Crichton, less complex than say a Robert Ludlum Bourne series book), it is also quite interesting and compelling. Shulkin here manages to take some scifi-ish concepts (ala, arguably most famously, Total Recall) and combine them with some more modern dissociative identity stories (ala Kerry Lonsdale's Everything trilogy) to create an innovative mythos and rare (in my vast reading) hero and villain who each share the same condition and use it in completely different ways.

As complex as this is - and perhaps those coming from Book 1 won't find it as complex - this is also one of the more interesting overall mythoi I've found in recent years, and I will absolutely be back for the next book, whenever that may come. Very much recommended.