Kevin Bohacz’s first book, Immortality, started this epic story when the nanotech plague ravaged humanity. He has now brought out the sequel and sent me a review copy – does Ghost of the Gods continue the momentum Bohacz created in his first novel?
Was it the accumulated wounds to the environment that had finally triggered the nanotech plague or was it simply one more step in a shrewdly crafted plan to replace us with humans 2.0? As I write this at least one pair of these transhumans breathe the same air as us, and there are likely many more. They may look like us, they may even be almost human, by they are also cybernetic and will live for an extraordinary length of time. Trust me, their goals are not the same as ours. It was not a natural plague that almost drove humankind to extinction but an attack from within, turning our own biology against us. Scientists discovered all too late an artificial entity, a sentient machine foolishly created in the image of god, had been studying us and genetically altering us for longer than we can imagine. What we do know that its work is not done…
Bohacz is a fluent, capable writer – but in these days of character-led action, his writing style is omniscient. This normally has me backing away from a book at a rate of knots – mostly because writers who use this particular POV these days often don’t know what they are doing. However, when Bohacz describes this book as a speculative fiction techno-thriller, he is only grazing the surface. In amongst the mayhem and chaos, some hefty issues are examined – the nature of existence and what happens after we die; humanity’s purpose; where Mankind originated and why… The engine that powers this book isn’t the character dilemmas – it is the techie stuff that is happening and these big questions that are raised. His scientific background majorly shows in the writing and I don’t think Bohacz could have written the book he wanted to if he’d stayed within his characters’ viewpoints. So, has he managed to get away with using omniscient viewpoint? Yes, I think he has.
I’m aware that I may have given the impression that this is an ambitious epic book that deals with some major issues – but it’s also a really entertaining read. Mark and Sarah, Bohacz’s main protagonists, are convincing and sympathetic. I was quickly drawn back into their story and wanted to know what would happen next – which was lots and lots… This fractured, paranoiac world is convincingly portrayed and the action scenes have pace and plenty of tension. Despite the fact that this book is nearly four hundred pages long and the text is reasonably tightly spaced, at no time did the story drag.
I managed to follow the science sufficiently to make sense of the story – but there were times when I skimmed over some of the explanations, which I do think could have benefitted from a bit more pruning. However, I’m aware that my dislike of lots of detailed exposition about world-building isn’t shared by many science fiction fans – particularly those who enjoy techno-thrillers.
Bohacz manages to provide a gripping plot with plenty of twists and turns that kept up the tension right to the very end.
But… my main niggle is that I would have preferred the book to have finished before the Epilogue, which has the feel of ‘tidying up’ the story and introduces a slice of sentimentality we don’t see anywhere else. I got the sense that Bohacz added it as an afterthought, maybe on the advice of an editor or beta reader. Personally, I would have preferred it if he hadn’t. However, it isn’t as big deal as it might have been if this had been a book with a smaller agenda. Bohacz has aimed very high with this techie yarn about why we are here and what might happen next – and even if techno-thrillers aren’t normally your favourite genre, give this book a go. I’m betting that you’ll still be thinking about it when some of your favourite authors have faded into the furniture.