Cons: a few plot points were problematic, esoteric slant might put off some readers, gory descriptions, some name confusion
ICAP agent Matt Rowley is given a small team of fellow augmented agents and tasked with taking down the Jade drug king pin Dawkins. But a lot of smaller problems must be dealt with before getting to the big one, and Matt starts to realize that not everything he believes about his crew, the augmentations they’re using, the drug, and ICAP itself is true.
This is a high octane action adventure story with lots of blood, guts and gore. The first half of the book focuses on the drugs and augmentations (including bonks - people whose augmentations have made them go insane), giving it a military SF feel. The second half of the book becomes more of a cat and mouse chase with an esoteric plot element eventually taking the fore. There’s still a lot of action, but readers looking for a full on military style near future SF story might be thrown by the more religious and relationship elements that crop up.
I loved that the relationships in the book were portrayed so realistically. The ICAP crew had communications and personality clashes, while still working well as a team. Meanwhile Matt and his wife, with her complicated pregnancy and fear of another miscarriage, helped ground the second half of the book. Matt’s motivations are solid and believable throughout the novel.
I did question a few of the plot points in the last quarter of the book, which I’ll mention in the spoiler section below.
I’m not a fan of excessive gore, but the book’s use of it wasn’t gratuitous, and it did emphasize the difficulty in killing augmented people. The esoteric antagonist had some pretty cool powers, making it a worthy bad guy for the team.
Several characters were introduced together by first and last name. After that, they were sometimes called by first name, and sometimes by last - often by different people as part of the same conversation. I personally found this confusing and it took me a while to get all the names and people straight.
While not perfect, this is an entertaining read that will keep you guessing.
I couldn’t understand how Janet was still employed by ICAP - and in such a high security position - when Dawkins was her brother. Sure Dawkins split off 10 years prior to this novel, but someone at the company must have known their connection and would have removed her. The fact that the book never addresses this issue is a problem as I constantly wondered when ICAP would attack her house, especially once Dawkins was freed from prison.
The second plot point I had trouble with also occurred at the end of the book and comes in two parts. One, how and when did Blossom get the augments she used? And two, after reading that Matt felt sick after getting his own augments and that they took a day or two to surface, how did he inject himself during the final battle and have almost instantaneous use of his powers without any nausea or other negative side-effects? That directly contradicts what we’re told only a few chapters earlier.