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The Electric Church

(Avery Cates #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,884 ratings  ·  300 reviews
In the near future, the only thing growing faster than the criminal population is the Electric Church, a new religion founded by a mysterious man named Dennis Squalor. The Church preaches that life is too brief to contemplate the mysteries of the universe: eternity is required. In order to achieve this, the converted become Monks -- cyborgs with human brains, enhanced ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published October 26th 2007 by Orbit (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  2,884 ratings  ·  300 reviews

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Not bad...but a very forgettable, very by the numbers hardboiled cyberpunk thriller that felt like a cold, soulless version of Neuromancer. For me, one of the remarkable aspects of really good cyberpunk is its ability to tap into the zeitgeist of the current generation and provide insightful commentary on where we're going and who we are becoming as a species.

This story was all surface. It had the right costumes and some interesting props, but there was nothing that gave the reader, at least
Harris Mason
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
I see this book has an average of 3 stars as I write this review. I suppose then I should justify my 5 star rating then. The reason I give this 5 stars is that I personally could not stop myself from reading this. Now sci-fi is generally not my genra of choice so I cannot qualitatively say if this is a "great" sci-fi book. But it kept me reading and interested. That is all I care. May be dark and disturbing for some people. Heck my copy of the book came with a warning about the content printed ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I see the majority of review have rated this as a menial read. That doesn't surprise me. For the age of Cyber-punk isn't anything new. What I found I liked about the book was the comic style of flow. I found the imagery and the characters to be more from the comic style of writing than just the standard novel. It's certainly not a new concept, just one I found fun and quick. If I want to challenge myself I will read the classics. When I want to feel pulp style fictions, than I will read this ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Folks, there is nothing subtle or beautiful about this one.

Unless, that is, you think perfectly described gun battles and psychotic cyborg monks are subtle and beautiful. Or maybe you are just a fan of exciting sucker-punch-to-the-stomach writing.

Set in a not so distant, and rotten, dystopian future the story follows the adventures of the surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero Avery Cates. Cates is a Gunner (a hitman) scrounging to make a living among the dreary masses. He is considered an old man
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Holy hell, I love this book. Love the idea behind it, the fight against eternity and a religion that wants to consume every part of you. Willingly or not.

Avery Cates is not a sympathetic character. He's a killer for hire, the man least likely to perform heroics, a cheat and a survivor. But he's a likable character all the same. He's an honest man who's doing what he needs to survive, but there are lines he won't cross. This doesn't make him a good person by any stretch of the imagination, in
Scott Holstad
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I've read a lot of mixed reviews of The Electric Church, which surprised me because I thought it was really good. Some of the reviewers out there really hated it, thought of it as unoriginal, thought it was stereotypical cyberpunk, were bored, thought it was predictable. I thought it was none of those things. Indeed, it was such an action packed thriller that each page seemed to have something integral to the plot and I was so intrigued, I read it in less than a day.

Avery Cates is a Gunner, a
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Are you read for some hardcore motherfuckers kicking some serious cyberpunk ass? Cuz that's what this book is about. HARSH LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, CYBERPUNK, FUTURETREK and SEX: That's the main parts that create this monster of sci-fi. It is definitely not for the intelligent type, it's full of vulgarism, constant action, a large amount of dick-wagging, pointless and cheesy dialogues, too HARDCORE-THAN-THOU action scenes and rather weakly explained cyber-future world.
However, it was entertaining.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm not normally a big reader of sci-fi books. This one, however, was a fantastic read. I can't really put my finger on what it was about this book that I found so appealing, but it is one of the best books that I've read in the past year. Set in the infamous not-so-distant future featuring a rag-tag group of assassins for hire (who are actually the good guys in the dark future created by the author) who must battle an ever-growing army of militant Monks, this novel is all action from the ...more
Christy Stewart
In any other media this would be amazing but it's a little too repetitive for a fun novel.
Yolanda Sfetsos
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cyberpunk, sci-fi
Just reading the blurb and the title for this book was enough to grab my attention. And that very creepy cover sure deepened my interest.

When I started to read this book, I found myself a little lost in the narrator's set up of this world because there was so much going on, and so much to be explained. However, as the story moved into the second chapter and I settled into Avery's tale, I understood exactly why it was vital to drop all of that info on the reader at the very start. Getting the
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you can deal with the (very) obscene and (frequent) language used, this book was astonishingly good. The main character stays true to himself. He doesn't go on a whole "what-am-I-doing-here" thing and although he doubts that he'll survive (quite a bit), he doesn't face much inner criticism, besides past hit jobs. This was a SOLID character; all of them were, in face, from Ty's twitchy nose to the twins' tandem eyebrows to Canny's "feminine" hair (by FEMININE, I mean that despite going around ...more
Oct 03, 2007 rated it did not like it
In his debut novel, The Electric Church, Jeff Somers attempts to create a 21st century cyberpunk novel. His vision of the not-so-distant future, managed by the fascist System of Federated Nations and their powerful police, exists in economic chaos, spawning rampant poverty and a vibrant criminal element. Avery Cates, a gunner, thrives within this environment, until he accidentally kills a cop and attracts the attention of the Electric Church and its mysterious Monks, cyborgs with human brains.

Amanda Skinner
I just received my copy of "the Electric Church" from the first reads contest. I look forward to getting sucked into Avery Cates' New York!


I was fully prepared to give "the Electric Church" one star while I was reading it. The premise captured my imagination from the start, but the story did not. I felt too bogged down in the repetition of our hero's age, and the many many times he falls down and injures himself, not to mention looses his weapons. I'm sorry to say it, but how did this guy
This really suited my current mood - there was something cathartic about how often Avery said "fuck." Kind of dark and gritty, but still fun. Also, the reader sounded like Guy Noir a bit, so that added another element for me - I don't think I would have read it like that in my head.
Jason Young
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, fiction, 2019
Formulaic but fun cyberpunk.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First of all this is gritty. Not pretty. Not highbrow. Not going to end up on your lit professor's bookshelf. And the main reason I like this series is just because I do not have any fear of walking into a pretentious coffee shop and seeing some erudite snob leafing through it.

It is a commentary on current society, if one comes down out of the clouds long enough to look around. Religious prats are running the political scene. Corporations really own our asses. The rich guys who own the
Jul 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I haven't read much dystopian fiction, the daily newspaper suffices as an antidote to cheer. I certainly intend to read Margaret Atwood's latest couple of books and read 1984 (talk about dated!) and Brave New World (although some might argue it's more Utopian.) It's also possible to read this book as a nice action yarn in addition to political commentary. Or vice-versa.

Basically, if you are rich, you're OK -- at least until the next riot, and the "electric" church guarantees eternal life but at
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read-in
Avery Cates, at twenty-seven, is an old man in his industry, that industry being contract killer in a futuristic New York. The society has evolved into a liberals nightmare picture Reagans trickle-down economy and the 1% all wrapped up in one, and very Cates is not a one percenter.

I loved this novel. It was less science fiction and more a detective noir novel set in the future. I kept visualizing Bladerunner (The movie, I have not read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? yet.)

Mr. Cates is a
May 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
So I thought this was going to be THE book for me (noir-style, theology, and cyborgs?! Yeah!), but much like Idolon it fell woefully short of expectations. It ended up being just another action-packed story that was all straight-plot and not enough thought, and beyond that, it really pushed my boundaries as far as willing suspension of disbelief. Besides that, the guy really needed a thesaurus. The repetition of words and phrases was enough to make me stop reading several times to see if I'd ...more
Kevin Kelsey
Jun 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Really fun concepts in this one. I loved the Monks and the church. I would've liked a lot more existentialism out of the characters though.

There was some really clunky exposition, and one-dimensional characters, etc. Basically, the book had the potential to be so much more than it was, but didn't try for it unfortunately.

Still a really fun read. I may check out the other in the series to see if the concepts that I enjoyed are further explored.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, dirty, bloody world where you should be looking over your shoulder at all times. The protagonist, Avery Cates, is not a nice man, but he's delivered in such a way as to be utterly sympathetic and, in some odd way, charming.

The great reveal was, I found, a bit of a let down. The journey along the way was not.
Dec 16, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, uf, did-not-finish
I tried this one, but the way it was written I just kept getting lost in the wording. It seemed like the author kept complaining about the police and there were weird levels and different names confusing me.
Guillermo Galvan
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book. The premise and cover caught my attention, so it had the advantage. But the writing was so corny and shallow. I'm tapping out.
Alex Gates
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
It reads like a blockbuster-action movie. The first chapter is pedal to the medal, and it never relents from there. At times, the aggressiveness feels tedious and overdone, and the barrage of it doesnt allow for real tension to build. But if you enjoy explosions and gun fire and lots of kick assery, this book is right up your alley. ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing

You should be geeking Avery Cates.

I have been a fan of this series since I pick up the first book on a whim and began to read it. The pages pulled me in and I havent stopped pushing the book since. In a unified world where the people are controlled by the corrupt System Cops, and held together by the crooked politicians the world has become a dark place and in this noir cyberpunk world heroes dont flourish but the bad guys do.

Enter Avery Cates. Hes a
Aug 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really enjoy a good noir SF. I don't read a lot of the genre but I thoroughly enjoyed Neuromancer, Altered Carbon, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Noir in general is just fun and when paired with SF's commentary on the world as it could be you get this appealing mix of brutal and introspective.
Or at least, you're supposed to if things are done right.
Unfortunately, things are done TERRIBLY in "The Electric Church" which takes the lazy man's way out of all the scene setting and world
Sarah Sammis
Dec 14, 2009 rated it liked it
I am so often reading series out of order. It's not that I do it on purpose but sometimes things get in way. I might not have access to the whole series at the same time, the newest books might catch my eye first or the books themselves might not be labeled well enough to make the proper order obvious to someone unfamiliar to the series. For the Avery Cates series, the library had The Digital Plague on display up front and I only learned about the first in the series, The Electric Church by Jeff ...more
Made DNA
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Set in the future, this is the story of Avery Cates who is not exactly a model citizen. In fact, if he had things his way, he would see the entirety of "society" and corrupt world government toppled. However, when he is approached by a man who wishes to hire him to assassinate the head of the Electric Church, he is going to need a helping hand from both government agents and the seedy underworld as well.

A post-cyberpunk book with heavy dystopian leanings. While I couldn't give it five stars, I
Tyler Espinal
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book due to the fact that it had action but it also had some science fiction to it. I think this book was a very good book to read due to the fact that the story from the beginning pulls you in and it leaves off on a large cliff. The parts that i liked about this book was that it was a story set in the future but it doesn't have a specific date. this book kept me interested even when parts started to plateau. some of the books strengths are that it can keep a reader ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Avery Cates is an asshole killer with principles. But I kind of like him. He reminds me a little of Harry Dresden, except he's not a wizard and kills people for money.

I enjoyed this book. It's really fast paced, well structured and nicely written. Also, language is rather foul sometimes.

Overall, 4 stars. I enjoyed it, read it all, and probably will read the remainder of the series.
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Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. He has published nine novels, including the Avery Cates Series of noir-science fiction novels from Orbit Books ( and the Ustari Cycle series of urban fantasy novels. His short story Ringing the Changes was selected for ...more

Other books in the series

Avery Cates (5 books)
  • The Digital Plague (Avery Cates, #2)
  • The Eternal Prison (Avery Cates, #3)
  • The Terminal State (Avery Cates, #4)
  • The Final Evolution (Avery Cates, #5)

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“I didn't want to kill her; she was just doing her job. But she was standing between me and the rest of my miserable life, so she was going to have to take a bullet.” 3 likes
“A religion that did not exist seven years ago, subsuming the world in ten. Unbelievable! Is it because the idea of salvation through eternity is so seductive? No, Mr. Cates. The Electric Church is growing so quickly because it forcibly recruits new members. They murder their new members, they perform surgery on their new members, and they control their new members postprocess via hardwired circuitry.” Suddenly” 0 likes
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