My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A Very Simple Dystopian SciFi
Simple World-building … Mars have been colonized for nearly 4000 years and it is ruled by corporate elites known as the Syndicate who are fairly stock bad guys of questionable morals and an apparent sadistic streak to make them truly and unquestionably evil. This authoritarian style government uses a “pontiff” puppet as governor and brainwashed assassins, euphemistically called “policemen” and who answer to a shell organization known as The Agency. Policemen are armed with laser gauntlets with neural links that pretty much do anything the author needs them to do. Outside of that and a reference to an artificial magnetic field that keeps mars habitable, the world is basically a dystopian America.
Simple Characters … bad guys bad … good guys good … and never the twain shall meet. Syndicate players really have no redeeming characteristics and, although paying some lip service to a profit moments, really are just addicted to power and the free exercise there if to teach the uppity masses a thing or two. The MC is a “policeman” assassin whose brainwashing didn’t completely take and “breaks” programming when he learns of a hit on his sister. You could perhaps forgive the somewhat stunted emotional capacity of Serus, except the supporting characters don’t do much better (making it seem like this story seem like it was targeting a much younger audience … say middle school). After overcoming his initial programming, Serus doesn’t really grow much … which makes it incessant navel gazing a minor irritation such that if it were not for the string of incredibly poor choices by pretty much everybody in the book would have been more of a factor in the rating. As it is, he miraculous seems to survive the consequences said bad decisions while absorbing enough damage to stop a charging Rhino and still somehow function (mostly because the villains are also incredibly stupid as well). Finally … toward the end we see a mild christian evangelization as the MC contemplate God and the Bible and his life choices.
Simple Plot … bad guys abandon Mars to its fate as the artificial magnetic field is failing (to eventually become The Dead Planet … maybe). Good guys are SJW that don’t think that’s fair and seem to focus on making the elites pay for abandoning them … lead of course by a reformed bad guy. It is remarkable (and saddening) how corrosive the violent revenge motif here is. Once the action gets back to Earth … we see pretty much the same strongman polities simplistically boiled down to only two (relatively small) actual communities. The broad strokes here are completely predictable and it is the narration that helps keep it all interesting.
I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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