Title: The Alpha Trial
Author: Lian Skaf
Publication date: August 3, 2022
Genre: Legal Thriller
One Sentence Summary: Decades ago numerous people underwent a procedure to unlock their whole potential, but they ended up going rogue, and now, years after a new law, it’s up to Andy and his team of attorneys to prove their client is still human.
The Alpha Trial is a fascinating and compelling legal thriller involving a certain medical procedure meant to enable humankind to reach their full potential, but instead created individuals now deemed non-human. While it goes into the history of the procedure and what happened to the patients, it’s much more about the trial of one of these individuals. Jordan Semanter wants Andy Hartley as his lawyer, so Andy takes it upon himself to gather a legal team and do his best to convince a jury, and the world, that Jordan, despite being Unlocked and a potential danger to society, is, in fact, human and worthy of being set free. This novel offered an excellent view into what happens in a courtroom as well as what happens outside of it. It was fascinating to watch Andy’s team prepare, as well as see the effects the trial process has on them. While there were some times when I felt in over my head, it was easy to put faith into the author that eventually it would all make sense and the story would come together.
Decades ago, one Congresswoman pushed a new medical procedure through, one that enabled patients to unlock their entire potential, waking up dormant brain cells. But that eventually brought on serious side effects. Those who underwent the surgery ended up paranoid and then violent, to the point where they clashed with the government in a horrific, bloody way. Now there’s a law in place, the hastily prepared ALPHA law that basically reduces these patients to a non-human designation.
Andy Hartley is probably the only lawyer to not go up against the medical community and win big, but that’s exactly why Jordan Semanter, an Unlock patient, as they’ve been called, wants Andy to represent him in court. So it’s up to Andy, his paralegal, and the two attorneys he pulls onto his team to convince a jury that Jordan is still human. He’s up against the odds, though, because the wounds from the fallout is still too fresh.
I went into The Alpha Trial expecting some blend of medical and legal thriller I wouldn’t fully understand, but maybe it would be a bit of a wild ride. I was thrilled the medical side was actually a relatively small component even if the story leaned on it, and that it was easily understandable. This is really all about the legal process, about preparing for court and going through the trial right up to the verdict and the aftermath. I was completely drawn into the process, even if I didn’t understand every term and every turn in the case. It was compelling and kept my attention.
First of all, this book held a piece of my heart. I grew up the daughter of a lawyer and spent some time studying and living in and around Philadelphia, so a lot of this book felt comforting and familiar, which made it a lot easier for me to just focus on the process. It’s not that Philadelphia was overly described, but it was very nicely woven into the fabric of the story so it made me feel like I was there again, with so many landmarks I recognized. I loved feeling like I was there again, and I think that’s one piece that will always have me thinking of this book with fondness, because I could see it unfolding in places I had actually been to. The legal process, too, was fascinating. I’ve been privy to some parts of it, so some of it was familiar, but I really loved getting into their process, into the little details and what all those lawyers on a team do, exactly. The Alpha Trial offered an excellent look into it, how it functions, and all the little things no one spectating in a courtroom might know is going on. In particular, I found it fascinating that one attorney’s job was just to watch the jury, to be familiar with each one of them and look for all their reactions.
I wouldn’t say The Alpha Trial was a wild ride, but it was certainly an interesting one. I wasn’t a big fan of the bit of romance thrown in, though, as it mostly just felt thrown in. But the rest of it was fun. The beginning had some info dumps about the whole Unlock history and process, but it was written so it felt like I was being told a story. It was easy to understand, and I liked that it was easy to understand the impact it had on society and what people thought of it. There were so many interesting twists and turns. Since this focuses mostly on Andy’s team, there isn’t a lot on what goes on on the prosecution’s side, but I loved all the ways in which Andy’s team worked together. There were some bumps, some issues in the courtroom, but I liked how they worked together and really tackled each piece as a team.
The one thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was how male-dominated this book is. There are some female characters, mostly family members of Jordan, but they play relatively minor roles. It would have been great to see a female attorney on Andy’s team, but I did like how the men worked well together. I wouldn’t say it flowed flawlessly, but I loved getting to see their thought processes and how they came to decide on their courses of action. It was like being backstage. There’s the courtroom drama, and I really did like how all the major court pieces were given time and space in this book, and then there’s some outside of it. I’ll admit to getting some of the men confused, but, by the end, they felt like unique individuals to me. My favorite was Andy’s paralegal, especially at the beginning. He’s quite a fun character. Andy himself mostly felt like he was a straight and narrow kind of fellow. He’ll do whatever it takes to defend his client, and do it the right way, but, outside, he just sometimes seemed a little lost.
The Alpha Trial offers an immersive look into the legal process, from the time an attorney comes to represent a client to the aftermath of the trial, which was quite something in this one. Reading some of it was a little over my head, but, since the author is an attorney, I had a great deal of faith in him and his ability to more accurately relate this trial. I loved how accessible it all was, so, even if I didn’t understand anything, I never truly felt lost, almost as though the author were taking my hand in those times and leading me to where I needed to be. This was a truly immersive and compelling read and I’ll probably never look at another trial the same way, knowing now what might be happening behind the scenes and in plain sight.
How many cups of tea will you need?
5 cups of tea
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Thank you to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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