The first book of a bold new trilogy by up-and-coming author A. J. Leavens.
In the future, Nuclear War has ravaged the planet. Slade Meechan, an Emissary for iCorps embarks on a Delivery to find Randy Herman – a man who’s escaped from a Penal Territory.
Beset by hurdle after hurdle, Slade must reach his Target before time runs out. His journey sends him far from his home, and into a land outside the Government. Accompanied by a loyal and mischievous Diplomatic Corps officer, and an array of mechanical gadgets, Slade crosses the world to fulfill his mandate.
What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted? Slade will have to use all of his skills and all of his connections to stay ahead of the one who wants him dead. But is there more to the story?
This was probably one of the creepiest, big-brother is watching you, sci-fi books that I’ve read in a very long time. It reminded me of cold-war Russia picking kids for their gymnastics programs and turning them in to Olympic athletes, only in this book it was turning them into cold-blooded killers. The story takes place in a post-nuclear apocalypse world where the government is based upon the game of Risk.
There are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma killers who deliver “The Letter” to individuals who deserve to be punished by the government. The Alphas are the elite killers, while the Betas and Gammas are in training, waiting for their moment to step into an Alpha’s shoes. One of the main ways they can work their way up the ladder is for an Alpha to fail to deliver their Letter in time. When they fail, they too are subject to receiving their own Letter, which means certain death upon reading it.
Slade is an experienced Alpha who fails to deliver his Letter on time, and another elite Alpha, Hotaru, is charged with delivering a Letter to him as punishment. She is also in the middle of uncovering some information that may expose a government plot to kill adversaries with diseases that have been eradicated for decades, yet mysteriously are the cause of death for Letter recipients.
Slade is being set up, but he doesn’t know the reason why, as he did deliver his Letter on time. Hotaru is a finely tuned killing machine, but she too finds herself on the wrong side of the law by digging too deeply into the mysterious disease issue. The government now wants them both dead. Luckily there is an insider who is fed up with the direction the government is going in and is willing to help.
I really enjoyed this novel and found it difficult to put down, though it was uncomfortable to read at times. It is uncomfortable because it seems plausible, and has a good government conspiracy-theory vibe. Throw in some interesting technology, some bionic body parts, and the ability to change yourself with downloadable upgrades, and you’ve got a great beginning to a sci-fi thriller series.
About the Author
A love of reading as a kid allowed me to explore worlds with dragons, spaceships, robots, and antiques cars. I’ve always had stories in my brain, and I’ve finally had the time to let them out onto the page. I’m a father of 4 who’s been married for 15 years, and is more and more in love everyday.
Follow the author here: Goodreads