by T.C. Weber
This book felt like a mix of the old Mission: Impossible TV show and Ready Player One. It’s an odd mix and sometimes it works really well and other times it hits a speed bump. However, this author can write. His use of language and pacing are spot-on and slick. He’s a true wordsmith. I can’t think of a single passage that felt out of place.
There are many things to like about this book. The action sequences are high-tension and exciting, while the attention paid to Waylee’s condition is sensitive and thoughtful. The author really excels when the scenes amp up and adrenaline gets pumping. My favorite parts of the book are the scenes set in the virtual world. I think if the balance of the book had leaned more toward Ready Player One and less to MI, I would have given it a higher rating, because I thoroughly enjoyed those bits.
The parts that didn’t work so well for me all take place in the real world. I really disliked the heavy use of profanity and crude terms for women. I am not a prude and I’ve been known to say words my mother doesn’t approve of, but I get so tired of seeing them in fiction. It felt like I was constantly tripping over the crudest language just as I was getting into the story.
There is a very heavy focus on politics here and the author has a definite agenda in mind. I sit right in the middle of the political spectrum, doing my very best to stay neutral on most subjects, but this book made me feel extremely right-wing. I had to laugh when the only middle-ground character in the entire book called Waylee a socialist and she got so offended. I don’t know what else you would call her, but I found the politics so off-balance as to be off-putting.
To really nail down the coffin on my “prude” label, I also wasn’t happy about all of the pot use. Legal or not, I don’t think of smoking pot as the best thing to do in the middle of the heist.
At its core, this IS a heist book, and it’s got all of the trappings: unusual characters, magical rubber masks, convoluted plans, etc. The planning stage went on a little too long and I also was hoping for a twist. After all, if you tell me what you’re going to do and then spend chapter after chapter showing me how you’re going to do it, when you actually put the plan into action, I’ve already experienced those events twice before. Do I really need to hear about them a third time?
This is why most heist shows and books (Mission: Impossible, Leverage, Mistborn) tell you what will happen and then hold something back in reserve, so you don’t know if the seeming failure is part of the plan or a bold twist they’ve kept from the audience.
Reading over my review, it doesn’t sound like I liked this book as much as I did. It’s a good book and will appeal to a wide audience – I just am not sure I’m the right audience for it – mostly because of the politics, the swearing, and the marijuana usage.
I recently read the five-book Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz, which covers similar ground, and I kept comparing this to that. In many ways, the comparison is complimentary to Weber, which is saying a lot. Ultimately, though, I think Koontz and I have a more similar take on the world.
I don’t just want to read about people doing exciting things. I want to read about people I can like who do exciting things. I just couldn’t much like Waylee and her friends, and that’s too bad, because they do some fun stuff.