My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I picked the audio of this up from the library and listened to it weeks ago (and forgot to review it). I had no idea it was part of a series and while Robert Ludlum and Jason Bourne are prominent on the cover, Ludlum has been gone a long time. But it is in the Bourne style spy thriller which I'm rapidly realizing isn't my genre. There isn't anything necessarily bad about this book (it is long) but it's nothing that sticks with me. It's sort of cyberpunk light.
Tech genius Dresner has released a beta test of his VR, wet-wired direct to the nervous system known as the Merge. Colonel (and medical doctor) John Smith is testing it for the military and it makes all forms of warfare obsolete. He is blown away by how well it works and better yet, even his PTSD interrupted sleep can be overridden and he can sleep.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, CIA agent Randi Russell is facing a mystery. One of the villages she knows has been eradicated. THe women and children seemed to have fought. THe men didn't and weirder still someone cut off all their heads and carted them off into the desert.
Eventually John and Randi come together (and obviously not for the first time) to wonder if the Merge and it's ability to instantly scan a person's civil and criminal records via the layercake app and judge them as a good person or one to avoid, is everything it's cracked up to be. Worse, much of the population, especially the world leaders and the rich are already Merged up.
Or has Dresner's tragic past made him insert something darker into the Merge. Suspecting that he has John, Randi and their hacker friend have to save the world from Dresner's 'utopian' vision of it.
Over all it was enjoyable and neither Dresener's damage nor even the SF direct to brain tech is that unbelievable. I do, however, think it went on too long especially in the beginning with John testing the Merge and some of the action is that eye rolling action movie sort that you have to suspend disbelief to buy into.
That said I'm not really motivated to read more Covert One books as it's just not my genre.
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Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this from Netgalley for a review (which in no way influenced said review). I have to say I’m learning the spy thriller isn’t my genre. Don’t get me wrong. This book was very good and I enjoyed it but at the end of the day I knew it just wasn’t for me. In many ways this story is nothing new. It’s the 80s TV show, The Equalizer right down to the special black ops background which leads the point of view character (In this case Evan Smoak) to help victims of horrible crimes. In Evan’s case cross that with (as much as I hate to reference him) Card’s Ender’s Game and you’ll have Orphan X.
Evan is the ‘nowhere man.’ He helps people the police cannot and all he asks is that you give his number to one person who also needs saving. It opens with Morena, a young Hispanic girl comes to him with an ugly case of sexual slavery that she’s trying to save her younger sister from. From there, he’s introduced to his next case a woman who has racked up over 2 million in debt gambling in Vegas and they’re going to murder her father if she doesn’t pay up.
He takes the case even though he is suspicious about how his last case would have met this woman and how fast she did it. All too soon someone is trying to murder them.
Unsurprisingly it has roots in Evan’s past. Evan was an orphan and he was taken from a bad life and trained by his mentor /father figure to be the perfect spy/solider/assassin. He was designed to have no attachments but his mentor came to see him more as a son than a super soldier and wanted him to have some humanity. This might cause problems, especially in Evan’s high security condo with the single mom lawyer and her young son.
There’s plenty of action. It’s mostly very intelligent without you wanting to slap the characters for doing stupid crap. Yes there’s that eye rolling almost unbelievable action stuff that’s part and parcel of this genre. On the other hand I got pretty bored at the beginning with the endless descriptions of how cool his weapons, his armored up car/condo are and how amped up his clothing is and how cold the vodka is or how endless his bank account is. Also I figured it out why way before Evan did.
If you like the Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher style books, you’ll probably really enjoy this. I’m not sure I’d read more because it’s not my genre. That said, I did enjoy it so who knows.
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