MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The children are the future. And someone is turning them into highly trained killing machines.
Straight out of school, Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. No one expects him to succeed, Griffin least of all.
Installed in a combat chassis Abdul, a depressed seventeen year old killed during the Secession Wars in Old Montreal, is assigned as Griffin's Heavy Weapons support.
Nadia, a state-sanctioned investigative reporter working the stolen children story, pushes Griffin ever deeper into the nightmare of the black market brain trade.
Deep in the La Carpio slums of Costa Rica, the scanned mind of an autistic girl runs the South American Mafia's business interests. But she wants more. She wants freedom. And she has come to see humanity as a threat. She has an answer: Archaeidae. At fourteen, he is the deadliest assassin alive.
Two children against the world. The world is going to need some help.
📖/🎧 Kindle Whispersync
What is cool is that this is actually Fletcher’s debut novel that was self-published in 2013 called 88, now with a fresh edit, a new title and a new cover. That cover is absolute fire and is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to read this. However, once I started it, it threw me off a bit, as I was expecting some kind of strange ninja-robot in the old west, but instead I got an urban sci-fi/dystopian-ish novel that takes place in the not-so-distant future of 2046. Also, for some reason Amazon has this under YA, this in fact, is not YA. This is dark and violent, edging on the lines of GrimDark.
“All warfare is based on deception. In the practical art of war, it is best to take the enemy’s country whole and intact. It is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.”
Once I realized what exactly I was getting myself into, I felt like the story was well written. It’s dark and disturbing plot gives off a very realistic vibe of the implications of what would happen if artificial intelligence took over. It reminds me a little bit of the Westworld show on HBO, which is based on the novel series Delos, by Michael Crichton. It has a lot of differences, but there does seem to be somewhat of a connection between the two. Since I loved the show, and I felt those connections, it made it an even more fun read. There is quite a bit of action and it is brutally vivid, intense and in the words of Fletcher himself, “a cacophonous maelstrom of devastation.” That just sounds so beautiful.
“The assassin effortlessly held the corpse upright with the tip of his sword in its skull until it stopped twitching. The blade slipped free with a wet sip before once again disappearing under what was left of his blood-spattered duster-coat.”
Fletcher brings several great diverse characters to life in this standalone novel and shows no mercy with his characters on a level of GRRM. Archaeidae, pronounced “Are-Kay-Day” the man on the cover, and Abdul might be my two favorites of this novel. There is so much to both of these characters that it’s hard not to like them. First off, Archaeidae’s look on the cover already makes him cool. But to see his story unfold makes him even more likable and I looked forward to getting to his parts. Abdul is one of those characters that you feel sad and happy about, he has a lot of depth and personal issues that make him very relatable. There are several other characters that get a lot of time as well in this multi-POV story, but these two are by far my favorites.
“Either the air wasn’t as bad here or Texans were as crazy as everyone said.”
I thought the narrator, Rosa B. Watkinson did a good job telling this story and differentiating her voices, but I had a small issue with the audio that I feel might be more on the production side of things rather than the narrator. The issue was that it felt like there wasn’t enough time between the ending of a sentence or paragraph, it just went from one word to the next without much of a pause to indicate a break in the story. The only time I noticed a break was when a POV switch occurred mid-chapter and of course the ending of a chapter. This may not seem like much, but it made it difficult to find a place to stop. Being from Texas and part of this taking part in my area of Texas, I did get a good giggle at the narrators attempt at doing a “soft Texas drawl.” I’m not gonna knock on her for it, as most readers may not pick up on that at all, but since it’s my “language” I did get a good laugh from it.