Review: DiSemblance by Shanae Branham

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 10:00 AM
Title: DiSemblance 
Author: Shanae Branham
Published: August 1, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Pages: 369
Source: Author (for review)
Rating: 3 stars
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Jason Tanner’s life has always been different from the ordinary citizen’s. It started when he was an infant and his parents were only teenagers. A computer science prodigy, Lloyd attended MIT but left a pariah in the eyes of the school’s dean—but a computer physics genius in the eyes of his primary investor. Then his theories and ideas created a holographic machine and their world shrunk as contact with the outside world became less and less frequent. A computer prodigy now himself, Jason is about to learn that the world never waits for you if you have the ability to change it: it will come for you.

Detective Bruce Durante has been handed the case of the Comfort Killer, a serial killer so named because he appears to abduct terminally ill patients before returning their corpses to their families in refrigerated coffins. When he picks up the trail, it leads straight to the home of Lloyd Tanner.

Jason has been living life through the world of Lloyd’s invention and wishing he could carry on a relationship with Boston, the beautiful girl next door. When his father is murdered and framed as the Comfort Killer, he is brought back to reality in a hurry. He is forced to destroy all of the planted evidence—and finds he is being targeted as the killer’s new fall guy. But the secrets of his father’s invention run deep and Jason, his brother Isaac,Boston, the Comfort Killer, and Detective Durante hurtle towards one another on a deadly collision course that leaves everyone’s life hanging in the balance. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

DiSemblance had such a compelling, unique premise. Jason's father's invention allowed people to enter a holographic reality, either physically or mentally. If they entered mentally, the person had the ability to manipulate the programming, changing it from a beach to maybe a gladiator like stadium, with just their mind. If someone physically entered the program through a door, they could be physically harmed from anything that happened during the program's running time, which definitely raised the stakes. Besides the futuristic technology, there was a dark twist with the Comfort Killer. The Comfort Killer was a creepy but complex character, as he kidnapped terminally ill patients and killed them by denying them medical treatment. But what really fascinated me about the Comfort Killer was that he provided the coffins and funded the funeral services to help the grieving families. Spooky, huh? It was cool to see this science fiction theme and murder mystery collide and unravel together.

DiSemblance kept up a fast pace, and I was never bored. The suspense and action of the book really peaked my interest and kept me reading. There were so many mysteries to solve, and I was eager to have my questions answered. Plus, Branham did a great job of shifting between the two POV's, Jason Tanner and Detective Durante. These two POV's offered a look into the Comfort Killer investigation and Jason's experiences with his father's invention, bringing together the two main themes.

Unfortunately, some of the conversations or scenes in DiSemblance just didn't flow logically for me. The characters said things that sounded unnatural due to the circumstances. They may have shown no emotion when they should have been feeling outrage, guilt, fear, despair, or just anything. Or they didn't react enough to developments. Characters just seemed to accept things as natural occurrences when I would have freaked out. It wasn't believable for me, at least. I needed more from Boston and Isaac. They felt kinda flat, and I learned very little about them. I needed deeper, more revealing conversations between them and Jason. A lot of what I learned was in exposition, and it still wasn't enough. It was harder for me to relate to them. While they were cute together, Boston's and Jason's romance was very instalove. I wanted to see more development and more scenes between them. Their romance just happened, and I never got a look into why they liked each other or how they built up their trust for each other. Why does Boston just go with Jason when he's on the run or accept immediately that he's in her house when it was breaking and entering? It just seemed strange, and I wanted more insight.

I was confused about some questions that remained unanswered at the book's finish. Such as how did Charlene even know Lloyd Tanner? And what about the one scene where Jason sees Charlene and his dad? That's all I can say for now without giving away anything. And then why was Boston taking photos of Jason? But maybe I just missed something. As far as I know, there is not going to be a sequel so these questions will remain unanswered.

I liked how the premise of DiSemblance differed from the usual paranormal romance or dangerous adventure across a dystopian or fantasy world filled with dragons (not that I ever tire of the above). I was frustrated with the characterization, but for those willing to overlook the above complaints, you may find it to be an entertaining, action-packed read.

*I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.*


  1. You did a great job with this review. Thank you.
    My Blog

    1. Thanks! And thanks for the chance to read it!

  2. I think this is a good, balanced review. I am like you and prefer characterization more than anything else in what I read so this probably isn't a book for me, but it sounds like an intriguing premise and I think you did a good job balancing your likes and dislikes.


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