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The Sightseers Agency

The Sightseers Agency (The Dreadnought Collective Book 5)5 Stars

The Sightseers Agency picks up with Richard Pencil leaving the government position he took up at the end of the previous book. With the new world order well underway, the big three-letter agencies are breaking up, and Richard is going back to work with Joe Fraser and the man known as the Inlooker. Richard also has an impressive upgrade to his extra-sensory detective powers. He’s joined by a new remote-viewer, Miss Plum Duff, whose talents were honed by alien intervention. Fraser hires them to launch the the Sightseers Agency, reporting to him and their mysterious benefactor. Their mission is to oversee the behavior of elected officials, and another secret goal is revealed later. Seb Cage, who is now a talented computer security specialist (along with the skills he gained from the Sombrella Syndicate), joins the agency as well.

The Sightseers soon discover that the greatest threat to earth isn’t just from rogue officials and politicians, but also hostile aliens who have been planning an attack for some time. Complications arise because some of the aliens on Earth are friendly, while some are more like tourists who take on human form just to experience something different. Ms. Plum Duff comes into her own here, since she, like Seb, has a long history with regard to aliens.

Like the previous agency novel, there is an overarching plot that is played out in several different investigations. While the book is described as a series of whodunits set in the future, each case is a link in a chain that ultimately brings conflict on both a personal and global scale. I was glad to see more about the use of psychic mind-reading to ferret out lies and criminal activity, and the manipulation of auras and even the soul itself. There’s also the fascinating angle of this “new world” society, run on a democracy-on-demand system with a goal toward a true meritocracy. While some of this society’s social practices seem dystopian, others, like the use of Tesla’s wireless transmission of energy, offer a utopia of readily-available power.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout the Dreadnaught series is the author’s vivid imagination. His notes at the beginning of the books give real-world tales of psychics and UFO phenomenon that act as the launch pad for his stories. His humor and wordplay are also in full force, with inventive non-cuss words, ribald comedy—especially when it comes to Richard and his Lothario tendencies—and the continued jokes about “potties,” which are ubiquitous self-driving transport pods, giving “on the throne” a whole different meaning.

Overall, this series has been fun to read. The major recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note and fans of the series will be satisfied by the ending.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B01KBAKX1E

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Drawing Word Pictures

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

The Time Slipsters spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. What is the funnest part about imagining and writing the future?

The fun is in seeing things that are commonly regarded as Sci-Fi beginning to happen. I believe that research on the web reveals what a wonderful world we live in. If you look for articles on medical research, the motor industry and technology in general, it also indicates where the human race is heading.

We are already seeing Nano robots being used for keyhole surgery, drugs being tailored to combat and kill cancer cells, and the early diagnosis of dementia, to name but a few. Plus the whiff of flying cars and free power is in the air!

Imagine a world where the health service does not feel overwhelmed by an aging population, because old people are no longer suffering the ‘ravages of old age’. Why would that be? The answer is: treatment of their various sufferings is being mastered, until death they do part! By the way, I come into the latter category.

Envisage a world where travel is from home to destination, in minutes. No airports, no connecting flights or trains or buses or taxis. No squandering of natural resources, no electricity costs, no power stations needed, no pylons or towering wind vanes blotting the landscape. Much of what I describe has been available for over a century, if it were not for intervention of vested interests.

The characters end up traveling through time, and like many stories, their actions in the past affect the future. What was the most interesting part about writing a time travel story?

Getting into the heads of the characters on both sides of the experience of time travel. Drawing word pictures of the experience and conveying mental images to readers was fun too. It challenges my imagination to run riot. By the way, unlike Professor Hawking I do not believe that the death of an ancestor caused by a time traveler would have any impact whatsoever on his or her descendants.

The threat to Earth is revealed by uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate. What was the inspiration for the Sombrella Syndicate?

I once worked for a Lloyds of London group of insurance syndicates, so am familiar with the concept. The deserted brickworks near where I live in Spain was an ideal undercover location for an alien base, but not big enough to house it, on the surface. Who better to man it, underground, than dwarfs, who have a reputation for mining and gold!

Time Slipsters is book three in the Dreadnought collective. Where does book 4 take the characters?

Book 4 takes the characters in an entirely new direction that totally engrossed me for a while. I took great interest in the feasibility of psychic involvement in crime detection. This added another dimension to the evolution of the Dreadnought Collective. The various characters in all the books are intertwined in book 5, the Sightseers Agency, which is now run under the auspices of the U.S. government, as is the entire collective. The individual agencies in the collective instantly become more effective as the two genres are mixed.

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The Time SlipstersA group of friends who have drifted apart decide to reunite and take a trip together. It is the near future, and their intention is to travel on the latest type of transport, in order to visit the ancient sites in Turkey.

They want to do this in luxury, and the travel company they selected has done its best to accommodate their desires. They are lost for words when they first cast their eyes on the spectacular, gleaming new vehicle waiting for them. It is in fact alien in technology, and far more of a futuristic craft than a mere ground-hugging coach.

Unwittingly, they are entering a world where time travel is a reality and machines can cater for individuals as well as the masses.
Soon, they embarking on a sightseeing tour like no other they could have imagined, and meeting a time-travelling stranger who takes them under his wing.

More than one person has a hidden agenda, as they realise when reach a highly protected secret location. It contains hybrid creatures on which the Gods of mythology are based.

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I Was Curious

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Seb and his brother spend the summer in Spain with their grandfather who pulls them along on a journey to discover that the town is filled with dwarves of alien origin. What was the inspiration behind this fascinating idea?

The inspiration for this idea is that fact that my hometown in Spain contains a high number of perfectly proportioned very short people. I’m surrounded by ‘em!

I felt that the story was adventurous but also humorous. Did you have fun writing this novel?

Yes, especially as there is a deserted brickworks near where I live, which is much like I describe it – above ground! The research into UFOs and how they may be powered took longer; I was curious about them, having seen a few, usually in groups, as I grew up.

 I felt the characters were well developed. What was your process in creating the characters and how did that change as you were writing?

It didn’t change much, if at all. The characters are nearly always based on real people, including my own family. We all circle each other warily.

Seb Cage Begins His Adventures is book one in the Dreadnought Collective. In what direction does book 2 take the story?

Book 2 is The Inlooker, which is pivotal to the expanding series and you have already reviewed that. It takes us into the near future, where Seb Cage is going to occupy a planet where the population is going to be drastically reduced by gentle means. The types of transport are also undergoing fundamental change, as are the methods by which we are ruled. This is where I need a lot of support from readers, since I am prophesying a future that can become reality, if we realise that it is achievable. My fear is that our senses are being dulled deliberately and we have to snap out of it.

Seb Cage joins the action in the third book in the series, The Time Slipsters. If the first book becomes a success and I live long enough with my marbles intact, the series will become volumes, and his continuing adventures will be related in Volume 1, Book 2.

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Seb Cage Begins His Adventures (The Dreadnought Collective Book 1) by [Tumbler, Terry]Seb and his younger brother Bart customarily spend all of their long summer holiday in Spain, with their grandparents. Gradually, as they all become older, relationships are strained, as the old folk try to find things to keep the boys amused.

It is not long before the grandfather, Tumbler, who is a retired detective, is using Seb as a trainee investigator to keep tabs on the movements of a sector of the local town who he thinks ‘don’t fit it in’ – they are in fact dwarves of alien origin.

Soon, Tumbler and his apprentice are rumbled, and Seb is invited to join a summer campus. Coincidentally, this is run by the dwarves and has only recently been set up, virtually on the Tumbler’s doorstep!

At the campus, it gradually becomes apparent that Seb and his classmates have been chosen beforehand, by genetic engineering. They find that they possess special abilities, which have been implanted in them at an early age, and realise that these are now being developed in a matter of weeks.

Whatever plans they may have had for the future, their chosen destiny now awaits them.

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The Time Slipsters

The Time Slipsters5 Stars

Book 3 in the Dreadnought Collective series returns to the home of Terry and Sandra Tumbler. Terry and his wife plan a return holiday to Turkey, recalling their last visit with their grandson, Seb, when his tour group from the Sombrella Syndicate got into trouble in the underground city of Derinkuyu. They’d like to go again to see it at their leisure. Terry invites several couples who had accompanied them on an earlier visit to Santiago. Since they’d had trouble on that particular tip, Terry sweetens the deal by booking a luxury version of fast-travel flying cars, colloquially known as “potties,” to speed them on their way.

On arrival in Istanbul, the five couples embark on a grand tour of historic sites on a large coach, shared by a group of Spanish tourists. During their travels, Terry meets with a mysterious man named Marius. Marius asks Terry for help regarding Alien visitations, and Terry is delighted. His love of researching UFO phenomena may help save lives, and Marius may be able to explain the odd dreams Terry is having. When the tour visits the ancient hospital of Asklepion, the true nature of the “Magic Carpet” tour coach (dubbed the Turkish Floater by Wilf) is revealed, and the travelers slip back in time to witness ancient Rome in person. This leads to uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate, and a threat to earth.

If you can’t tell by the irreverent names of the vehicles, this is a very funny book. The Time Slipsters is a delightfully fun read. It crosses genre borders as easily as the Magic Carpet crosses timelines. The story spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. Terry is a loveable rogue, and his gaffes are both funny and important to the story. Laughing at phallic rock formations and obsessing over bathroom facilities in ancient buildings could be jokes, but they may come in handy later.

But the trip is not all fun and games. When the ship begins to slip between time zones, the travelers are under very explicit orders to stay away from the locals. One of them foolishly ignores that advice, and like any time travel story, what you do in the past can have a ripple effect into the future.

The author’s imagination is truly fantastic. Even the little details of this future world are well fleshed out. There’s the concept of Democracy on Demand that allows people to guide their government by instantaneous voting. And sure, the flying cars are neat, but what about smart suitcases that carry themselves to and from your hotel, or having delicate surgery performed by nanobots while you sleep? I can’t start on the alien technology without spoilers, so you’ll have to read for yourself.

One thing I liked was the occasional break in the intrigue so I could wander the streets of ancient monuments along with the characters. It’s clear the author has visited these places and wants to share these remarkable places and their histories with others.

Though Seb Cage Begins His Adventures was a book aimed at young readers, The Time Slipsters is decidedly more adult. The adult humor and a few sexual references, though never explicit, wouldn’t be appropriate for a young reader. If you like SF, time travel stories, or dry British humor, you’ll like this book.

Pages: 291 | ASIN: B018MLKT7M

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PrimoDeus

Primodeus4 Stars

PrimoDeus, written by John Lachance, is a novel based on the life of Beaulyn deFaux. Beaulyn is a defrocked priest, caught in a nightmare of illusion and reality whilst having flashbacks of his childhood. Abandoned as a toddler, Beaulyn was thrust into the arms of his babysitter, Claire. Shortly after, arrangements are made to foster the boy and he is soon visited by a group of triumvirs to assess his well being. During the meeting, the terrible secrets haunting each woman are unraveled and secrets of the past are exposed. Flash forward to the current time and Beaulyn is fighting his own demons as he tries to forget the pivotal moment in his life that leads to this future- a beast in revelation.

PrimoDeus is a novel styled around religious ideologies and focuses on a journey of demons and biblical style events that surround the life of Beaulyn DeFaux. Beaulyn is a former priest who is lost within a land that tortures him into a delirious state of confusion. Throughout the story, the characters intertwine in both past and present to allow the reader to gauge the truth around the mysterious Beaulyn.

The chapters are written in a similar format to a play with parts of the story labeled as an “Act” and even an “Interlude”. Throughout the various Acts, the story occasionally changes the font in order to depict inner thoughts. For example, one style shows Beauby (Beaulyn) as a baby where he slips into “daymares” as the characters of his life morph into witches and fairy tales. This can sometimes act as a moment of relief for the reader as some of the themes are sensitive and may be a trigger for some individuals.

One part of the story takes place in the past where Beauby is being assessed by women from a church (sometimes referred to as triumvirs). Memories of imaginable horror resurface during the triumvir’s visit to Beauby, providing an insight of the tragic circumstances each woman endured throughout their lives. Bizarre interactions begin to occur between the women and child as they strive to understand the probing stare of his intense blue eyes. Little do they know that a torturous moment in his childhood is forming the path of his unfortunate demise.

In the present time, Beaulyn is constantly battling his inner demons in a fight to decide what is real or a delusion. Haunted by his own personal demon, Azra (sometimes appearing as a vulture throughout his life) the story flickers through characters of the future and past, leaving the reader to slowly piece together what is real and what is an illusion.

At parts, the story delves into unimaginable trauma and John Lachance’s style of writing leaves the reader feeling emotional and empathetic to characters that you would not expect. Brigitte is one character that is involved with Beaulyn during his years as an apostate and her innocent demeanor and loyalty to him is one attribute that I admired. They are lost in the Caldera, walking for days with no food or water, yet the intricate details of her love seem more like an infatuation with the powers Beaulyn seemingly possesses.

Demons, swarms of bugs and exorcisms are all part of the biblical style novel that leaves the reader questioning, what is real and what is simply a delusion? I would give this book 4/5 and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the mystic of demons and religious beings.

Pages: 532 | ISBN: 1524653942

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Game Over

Game Over (A Series of Ends Book 1)4 StarsGame Over begins inside a virtual world created by Sybil, an AI that rules over the virtual world of Elysium. Ekko Everlasting spawns into what seems to be a video game, armed and ready to fight, although he has no memory of who he is or why he’s there. He knows only his name and his innate ability to survive in a kill-or-be-killed environment. This skill helps him win his first match in No-Life, the most popular game in Elysium.

Flush from his win and mobbed by fans, he’s saved from an imposing cyberman—and potential deletion—by Ridley Scott, who tells him that Ekko is an important asset to the resistance. Ridley and his boss Dadgar recruit Ekko for their mission to find the central core of the Sybil system and free what’s left of humanity on Earth. Dadgar tells Ekko that Elysium was created to solve humanity’s problems, including illness and death, so millions of people were uploaded into the system. If humans in Elysium don’t live up to Sybil’s standards, embodied by the No-Life game, they are reprogrammed or deleted by the cybermen. Deletion brings death in the real world.

There’s a lot to like in this novel. The stakes are as high as they get: life or death for not only Ekko but humanity itself. The games he plays, No-Life, Myth and Magic, and The Test, bring the kind of exciting combat and split-second decision making that will keep you on the edge of your seat. His adversaries and allies are experts at the game, and the scenarios Sybil pits them against are both elegant and deadly.

There’s also a throwback to the “choose your own adventure” books that were popular in the late 1970’s and 80’s. At several points in the story, readers are given a choice for Ekko’s next action, and the wrong choice can lead to the words: Game Over! If you follow the right choices, it leads to a surprising conclusion with an interesting twist on Ekko’s mission—and his identity. His journey through the different levels of the game reveals the lengths that the elite will go in their quest for power. In this case, literal power measured in watts instead of mere credits.

A few things didn’t go over well. Every scene that ends with a choice of adventure has an obvious “opt out” spoiler, so it’s too easy to avoid the “game over” choice. I was also a little confused about the cyberman, Naraku Carbon. The author gives him an entire chapter and backstory, but after that chapter, he vanishes completely. His only contributions to Ekko’s story were brief encounters that could have been fulfilled by any anonymous security drone.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy gaming, tense action scenes, and life or death adventure. Though it borrows a few concepts from popular movies like Battle Royale and The Matrix, Game Over offers an interesting take on what might happen if life really is a simulation.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01KNJ8WB6

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Hegira

Hegira (The Brin Archives #1)4 StarsA mutiny on the spaceship Hegira kills everyone on board. The ship is not discovered until thousands of years into the future, when it is found to be carrying all of the remaining DNA samples of the Brin, an extinct race of birdlike humanoids. Using advanced technology, two DNA samples are used to clone two of the Brin. The clones, Karm and Maripa, are sent back in time to save their race, before their planet explodes when its sun becomes a supernova. Karm gathers the greatest Brinian minds, to prepare a new life on a distant planet, but he must stay one step ahead of the ruling family consisting of a power hungry monarch and his brother, the leader of a fundamentalist religion, as science goes head to head with both religion and big government in this fast paced Sci Fi adventure.

Since Galileo, religious fundamentalists have asserted their violent opposition to ground breaking scientific discoveries, and time and again, history has shown their efforts to be naive. In Hegira, a new science fiction novel by Jim Cronin, a fundamentalist religious sect known as The Faith attempts to stop the work of the good guys, who are doing dynamic cloning research, which happens to be the only hope to save the entire race. Cronin sets all of this up rather quickly, while relying heavily on familiar time travel tropes, i.e. using knowledge of the future to make a fortune as an investor while not doing anything to alter future events. The pacing improves once the protagonist Karm establishes himself on his home planet Dyan’ta and gets to work on his mission: to save the entire race.

The strength of the book lies in the critique of the meddling of governments/militaries, and religion, with science. Hegira’s subtitle could have been: The Ethics of Cloning and the Religious Dimwits Who Think Their Opinion Matters. The bad guys in Hegira are a pair of power-hungry and conniving brothers. Brach, the king, kills their oldest brother to become the monarch, and Lerit, whose treachery leads to his position as the Archbishop of The Faith, team up to oppose Karm and his cloning research. In a way all too reminiscent of the way the church and right wing politicians have combined their forces to keep stem cell research, and other recent revelatory developments in genetics at bay, Hegira’s plot builds around what appears to be Cronin’s thesis: scientists should be left alone to do their good work.

Karm represents the future, both literally and figuratively, and his name being one letter short of karma does not seem to be a mistake. Such is an example of one of the more enjoyable quirks of the text: Cronin’s naming of things. He imagines alien animals like “thick furred pretzels,” and then hilariously, he creates great curse words, “I’ve got to get the strix out of here!” and my favorite: “Holy mutes!”

While Fans of more literary science fiction might be less than impressed with all of the tells in the dialogue, Hegira is fast paced and fun enough that such common errors of paperback fiction should not be judged too harshly. Written by a former middle school science teacher, Hegira contains plenty of cool science including cryogenics, cloning, and string theory-inspired time travel, to keep its Sci Fi readers interested. And it even manages a sweet love story.

With a little bit of everything, Hegira is a quick and fun read for fans of science fiction.

Pages: 292 | ASIN: B010E3EKC6

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Paroxysm Effect

Paroxysm Effect4 StarsHuman beings can be the most destructive, manipulative creatures on the planet. Ashleigh Reynolds captures this with fierce elegance in her novel Paroxysm Effect. What begins with a futuristic world where people are chipped in order to control their emotions devolves into an end-of-the-world scenario that will have you guessing what Reynolds possibly dreams about at night. Our protagonist, Gemi, finds herself in the center of the world’s destruction as people all over begin to succumb to madness as the chips they have lived with for untold amounts of time begin to go haywire. Mild mannered receptionists are ready to dice their coworkers to pieces. Strangers in the streets are murdering others before anyone can fully grasp what is going on. Gemi tumbles out into the middle of this madness only to be rescued by the handsome Jaxton and his military band of unchipped soldiers.

In order to read this book, you must be comfortable with blood: because there is a lot of it. Between the savage beatings in the streets there follows the betrayal of friendships and the viciousness of angry, threatened women. Gemi is a fish out of water: she’s being pulled along for the ride as the military group tries to save themselves from the regular humans whose chips have malfunctioned. We learn that military members are not chipped in an effort to keep their emotions clear and functioning: they need the ability to make snap decisions. Gemi is considered a normal human from a society where chipping is commonplace. With the world going to hell around them, it’s no wonder that other members of the group look upon her with disdain and treat her like a parasite; all while waiting for her to go berserk so they can put her down.

The severity of the attacks seems to increase along with the page numbers. Reynolds is not afraid to show the ugliness that permeates the human soul. While human beings tend to pride themselves as refined and cultured, Paroxysm Effect shows how twisted and despicable they truly are.

With a quick pace and excellent story-telling, Reynolds isn’t afraid to push boundaries and ideals in her novel. For her debut into the literary world she certainly didn’t waste any time getting to the nitty gritty. You can feel the time and effort Reynolds put into developing her world and her characters. She sees the story all the way through; even with the massive twist at the end. While most twists tend to negate everything that happened before them, Reynolds instead uses her twist to full advantage and propels the tale along.

If you’re in the mood to have your mind played with while pondering the potential benefits of a behavior modifying chip, give Paroxysm Effect a read first and then determine how comfortable you’d be leaving your emotions, the very things that compile our personalities and make us who we are, in someone else’s dastardly hands.

Pages: 296 | ISBN: 1523449233

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Milijun

Milijun4 Stars

On a distant moon, a miner stumbles upon an apparent catacomb of an alien species, but when one is brought to the surface for study, it sparks a strange and violent invasion as the species wakes and makes their way to Earth. While on vacation in southern Australia, Laura and Jason Sinclair are the first to view the aliens’ arrival, but while trying to put the strange sighting behind them, their vacation turns into a nightmare as Jason’s sudden abduction and physical interaction with the aliens sparks a journey across the desert in search of answers. As the mother and son are pursued by law enforcement, military personnel, and the otherworldly beings, they’ll have to discover who is friend and who is foe in a world where any human may harbor an alien within.

Graham’s book Milijun is, at its core, the story of a mother trying to keep safe a son who is increasingly thrown in danger, first by others, but later at his own behest and for noble intentions. Her panicked determination and fierce protection of her teenage son are entirely relatable and hold the emotional center of the book. Around that, the sci-fi plot swirls, much like the pressurized vortex the aliens create, occasionally landing in moments of sincere character development, but otherwise surrounding the reader in the universe Graham has created. Modern technologies are newly interpreted in this year of 2179 AD, with fantastical ideas like phasing, instantaneous teleporting, and corporeal possession given plausible, scientific grounding. As with many sci-fi works, the focus is the world, the background against which the plot occurs. The expanse of space and the futuristic Australia are both described in wonderful detail, revealing great personal knowledge with both environments. The humanity and motives of every character is questioned, both for their personal interests in the new alien species and the possibility they are being possessed by that invading species. There are themes throughout of motherhood, the moral stakes in scientific exploration, the nature of the afterlife, and the existence of souls – all used to great effect.

Beyond Laura’s motivation to keep her son safe, however, the other interactions between the human characters seems plot-driven, as opposed to true connection. However, because of this, the reveals and surprises in the final third are true surprises, but I wish I could have been let in on the secret with half-hidden hints about our character’s motivations throughout the first two-thirds. As it stands, people seem to realize they’re being deceived or supported because of sudden gut intuition, not conveyed from the character but from the plot’s necessity.

One of the character devices that stuck out the most was the supposed romances – I say supposed because they either come out of nowhere, or aren’t supported by the involved character’s actions. They don’t interfere with the basic story, but they don’t add much either, many because they are unbelievable, or they aren’t necessary to the story’s development. These romantic pairings are supposed to make us feel more for the characters, but if they had been executed as well as the mother-son relationship, I would have cared more about the outcome, instead of seen them as odd personality traits thrown out to garner affection for one particular character.

In the end, these character flaws didn’t keep me from enjoying the story presented, and the eventual abolishment of the classic “good vs. evil” dichotomy was greatly welcomed, as well as that character’s choices, whether right or wrong in the end, did have consequences. The ending, which was oddly ambiguous in its instantaneous, unexpected nature, nevertheless intrigues me, especially with many plot threads still left open-ended, and I’m excited to see where the surviving characters go in subsequent works.

Pages: 322 | ISBN: 0994495609

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Death Leaders

Death Leaders5 StarsIt’s 2031. Crime and violence plague the city of Chicago. The government constantly tracks its people with small hardware implanted into each citizen’s neck. At the same time, another organization, possibly even more powerful than the US government, is working in the shadows – completing their own macabre agenda. Chris, once a homeless orphan, is rising quickly through the ranks of this organization. Having been adopted by a very old man who is well-known throughout the organization, many are jealous of Chris and his high pedigree, making it even harder for him to perform his grave responsibilities.

In this way Kendra Hadnott sets up what happens next in her delightful new novel Death Leaders, a tight, well-written yarn. Death Leaders is Hadnott’s 6th novel, and is a work from a writer with experience, insight, and imagination. The writing and dialogue is fluid, allowing you to simply become engrossed in the story. Her characters’ emotions and actions are believable and empathetic, you find yourself rooting for Chris and then questioning if you should be. And lastly, the dystopian setting and story keeps you enthralled throughout.

After receiving a confusing new assignment related to a young local woman, Chris begins to take careful first steps, knowing his reputation and future in the organization depend on it. As he becomes more acquainted with this girl, he begins to sympathize with her, wondering about her past and becoming smitten by her good looks. But as he continues moving forward, he realizes that someone else, possibly from his very own organization, is stepping in and complicating the situation. He doesn’t know why someone is interfering or even how far up the organization’s ladder this conspiracy goes. Is it just jealousy of his father, or is it something else? After turning to his friends for help, he realizes that even they are keeping secrets from him.

In the same vein as Hunger Games and Divergent, Hadnott creates a not-so-average teen who is trying to make sense of his personal life, as well as how he fits into a larger system. Death Leaders is well-written and gripping. The characters’ backgrounds, feelings, and motives are well fleshed-out, and the setting is appropriately creepy, tinged with a dark side that is just enough. This definitely has crossover appeal – enjoyable for both young adults and parents alike. This isn’t just a novel that revels in the dystopian worlds that are so popular right now. Sure, the setting is exciting and fascinating – a dismal future, where the population has little freedom and where certain random ‘life’ events aren’t quite random. But, like the Hunger Games trilogy, the real appeal is the focus on characters’ emotions, actions, and motives. It’s all just set in an incredibly detailed and rich backdrop that keeps us wondering what will happen next.

Pages: 131 | B01C1WUTVO

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