It’s April 4, 2065. Much of what formerly was the United States is in smoking ruins, the victim not of intercontinental war, but of extreme, bloody civil unrest.
In the Oval Office, now just a museum piece, Chancellor Carl Venloran is remembering a speech he delivered before thousands of frenzied supporters twenty years before at the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke of restoring America’s dignity and the perils of corporate outsourcing and the terrible price paid by wounded war veterans.
If all this sounds disturbingly familiar, it’s through the brilliant efforts of first-time author Joshua Aaron Landeros, who has penned a grisly but compelling portrait of a nation — and a world — transformed by a lust for absolute power and control.
Venloran’s United Nation Republic, now the ruling entity that has absorbed many formerly free nations, keeps an uneasy peace in place with brute force, delivered by superhuman cyborg enforcers who carry swashbuckling 1860s-style sabres. They think nothing of dismembering anyone who is an active — and threatening — member of the self-styled rebellion movement.
This dynamite foray into post-apocalyptic fiction is spun with a deft authorial hand that reads at times like a movie script or a vivid, ultra-violent video game. And through much of the mayhem, two amiable but very dangerous androids — Will and Luis — wisecrack their way through insurrections and assassination attempts.
Indeed, most of the novel is liberally laced with combat terms and military lingo that should readily appeal to anyone who loves to read — or watch — a Ramboesque series of terribly realistic action sequences. Seriously, they’re very, very good.
But at the heart of the story lies the futuristic conflict of man versus man — or, perhaps, cyborg versus man — in scenarios where you’ll wonder who the bad guys are. Will and Luis, for all their superior strength and android implants, still come across as sympathetic, vulnerable — yet very deadly — characters. And no less sympathetic are the members of the resistance — Gabby, Neal, Jacob, and others.
The skillful development of these players in the overarching plotline gives this novel incredible depth and breadth that carries it far above others in its genre. And the central story that drives the book provides a worthy backdrop for unlimited action and suspense.
The final action sequence is epic. Here’s a little passage to whet your appetite:
“Our battle is at last at hand. You will be the greatest opponent I have ever faced. After you, life once again becomes dull.”
Five stars to Reverence. Readers will come away exhausted by the nonstop explosive action and satisfied by the climactic conclusion.