Having read this author’s more YA books, I was curious to see how this more adult novel would go. Now, I’m quite pleasantly surprised by how Tew’s writing and storytelling has “grown up.” While his other books are cool and entertaining, this one is a lot more complex and easily better written. It’s like Looper meets Ex Machina meets…something about corporate hoodwinking via chemical-induced amnesia.
I don’t have a clue how to explain the plot (a difficulty whenever multiple timelines are involved), but basically the story centers around Mel, a young inventor, and how he gets tangled up in the deceptions of the corporate powers at Emergent, a towering “spacescraper” where dwell those responsible for the greatest advancements in science. Meanwhile, Dale and Eirik time-travel all over the place and try to orchestrate events, and this has SOMETHING to do with why-ever Emergent wanted Caroline, Mel’s mother, in the first place. The different timelines added a dimension of intrigue that I enjoyed, but it was also confusing as I tried to sort out who was up to what, when, how, and why. But, that confusion also kept me reading.
The android aspect of the story was great. Tamara’s growing awareness of Self and her subsequent adventures, all while working out her loyalty/love to Mel, made her a very sympathetic non-human character. I’ve read a lot of Sci-Fi books with female androids and at first thought, “Dear Lord, not another idealized sexbot,” but this was not that, as Tamara is much more fleshed out, so to speak. The contrasts between here and E, the god-like AI of Emergent, worked very well too. It was cool how these futuristic creations were used, and also how they used minds of their own to interfere with human plans.
Honestly, I think Mel often was a little stupid. His frequently saying, “Huh?” made me think this was on purpose on the author’s part, but sometimes his actions and decisions seemed dumb solely so that the plot would move in a certain direction. (Example: If you don’t trust the bigwigs and think they are responsible for your mother’s disappearance, THEN you receive a note warning you your life is in danger, why would you show that note to said bigwigs?)
Overall, I was impressed with the complexity of this story, even if it felt like a few too many layers at times. The not-so-distant future setting is completely believable as corporations with money seem to have all the power. It was easy to relate to the good, struggling characters while detesting the greedy, ambitious-at-any-cost characters. And by the end, the direction the story takes definitely leaves room open for more story to come.
See it on Amazon!