I broke the cardinal rule and read the final book in a series first. I was expecting to struggle to understand most of what was going on. I didn’t. This book works well as a stand-alone novel. I would recommend starting from the beginning though as there are lots of points where I felt some background information and emotional investment was hinted at.
Avery Cates is a Gunner, an assassin, and a street kid criminal pressed into the army and implanted with cybernetic implants that as well as giving him various physical advantages also allowed his controllers to terminate him remotely. This dytopian society is ended by a war, and like a cockroach Cates travels through the post-apocalyptic wilderness and cityscapes search for the people who put him in this position. It is easy to relate to the trapped and manipulated situation that Cates feels has pervaded his entire existence.
Everybody who spends any time near Cates ends up dead. He makes John McClane from Die Hard look like a lucky charm. He does the only thing he knows how to do and kills anyone and everyone in his way. The collateral damage in this story is epic. Some of the language used is just stunningly descriptive. My favourite example of this was “His accent was English, bitten off with cheerful relish, as if words were fun”. This is not an overly wordy book though, it is a quick and fun read that although concludes nicely does leave some questions for your imagination to consider.
I enjoyed this book and fully intend to buy the first book and read the whole series. It has roots in classic near future sci-fi, but has enough original points to complement the plot of this aggressive action thriller.