This near-future cyber-thriller starts with a bang, and then just gets more full-on from there…
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Georgette McClain can’t resist a juicy tip. So when a rumored crazy ex-CEO gifts her evidence of a vast conspiracy involving the world’s premier scientific community, Arcadian Heights, she sets her sights on the story of a lifetime. And all she has to do to grab it by the reins is sneak into the most secure facility in the world—and expose it for the slaughterhouse it is. Tech company CEO Marco Salt has it all. Fame. Fortune. Family. But not long after Marco’s beloved genius daughter is invited to join Arcadian Heights, a rogue agent reveals to him the horrifying truth about the revered scientific community. Forced to flee for his life, Marco finds himself on the run with a deadly secret in his grasp and a single goal in mind: destroy Arcadian Heights.
Georgette and Marco are the two main protagonists and we are in their viewpoint most often, along with the major antagonist, Quentin. And when Marco discovers exactly what has been going on at Arcadian Heights, he hires Georgette to start digging for further information, as he struggles to come to terms with what has been done to his beloved daughter – along with hundreds of other bright, creative people.
Knite has a punchy, readable writing style that scooped me up and swept me along from the first page. Action-packed and full of incident, there is nevertheless an interesting conundrum he poses regarding the moral dilemmas in such an extreme situation. Quentin – the main antagonist – is not just some two-dimensional hate figure. In many ways, he is something of a mirror figure to Marco, who is also capable of ruthlessly using other people to achieve his own objectives. He is also utterly convinced that Arcadian Heights is Humanity’s only hope for survival – and if he is right, then surely securing this single bulwark against our species’ impending doom, even if the cost is heartbreakingly high.
The narrative timeline dots around, often jumping back to fill in the background in the viewpoint of the main characters so you do need to pay attention. But as Knite clearly indicates the changes in viewpoint and time, it isn’t too difficult to follow. While the overall story arc soon became apparent, there are all sorts of twisty little surprises that kept me engrossed and engaged in the book.
Any niggles? All the main characters seem to have an insanely high tolerance to shock, pain and major injuries – to the extent that I found myself wondering in the middle of the action whether it was credible to keep functioning with the level of damage they sustain. However, the same can be said for many other action adventures so it isn’t a dealbreaker – and I could visualise this book being made into a successful and entertaining film. If you like your action fast and furious, set in an intriguing if bleak future scenario, then give this one a go. I’ll guarantee an incident-packed ride that raises some interesting moral issues along the way.