Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Dystopian / Cyber Punk
Approximate word count:
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Paige Daniels is the pen name for Tina Closser. When she isn't busy with her nine to five job as an electrical engineer she helps her husband with a small hobby farm complete with a mini horse, cows, and sheep. In between farm duties and running the kids to gymnastics she likes to write, thus the creation of this novel.
Shea Kelly had a brilliant career in technology, but after refusing to implant an invasive government device in her body she was sent to a modern-day reservation: the Non-Compliance Sector, a lawless community run by thugs and organized crime. She’s made a life for herself as a resourceful barkeep, and hacks for goods on the black market with her best friend Wynne, a computer genius and part-time stripper. Life is pretty quiet under the reigning Boss, apart from run-ins with his right hand man, the mighty Quinn: until Danny Rose threatens to take over the sector. Pushed to the edge, Shea decides to fight back ….
There’s a lot to like about this novel. Shea is a neat character. I enjoyed spending time with her. She always seems to have a sarcastic retort or cutting remark ready, sometimes too at the ready for her own safety. Shea punches above her weight both physically—martial arts--and with her quick-thinking
streetwise high IQ. She’s definitely strong enough to carry a series.
The Non-Compliant world (we never hear much about the “normal” world where everyone is controlled by an implanted chip) is gritty and raw—fitting for the genre.
As the story evolves, though, I got a little irked with Shea’s whiney side. “Does he really like me? Gosh he can’t because I’m not pretty enough or smart enough.” I paraphrase, but this was an oft repeated inner thought, and, for me, the insecurities just didn’t gel with the badass Shea character.
But this is a minor gripe in an otherwise great read that I looked forward to each night. Definitely a 4-star until I came to the end, which wasn’t an end at all. The story seemed to finish mid-paragraph. The main objective wasn’t resolved. A key character was frightened by a mysterious phone call—that was clearly significant because he wasn’t an easily frightened person--and a mysterious vial was sent off for evaluation, but no result was forthcoming even though Shea had risked her life to obtain said vial.
I guess because there’s another novel in the series the author wanted to leave a hook, but this was less cliff-hanger than truncation. I felt cheated.
Clean copy. Written in present tense—no problem for me, but some readers do dislike that format.
Rating: *** Three Stars