On the cut-throat streets of Tarkis, orphaned teens like Rath end up jailed...or dead. So when the shadowy Janus Group offers Rath a chance to earn riches beyond his wildest dreams, he seizes it. But the Janus Group is as ruthless as the elite assassins it controls. Rath will have to survive their grueling, off-world training, and fulfill all 50 kills in his contract before a single cent comes his way. And ending so many lives comes with a price Rath can't anticipate. It'll certainly cost him what's left of his innocence. It may well cost him his life.
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For a book with a space station on its cover, this is some of the thinnest science fiction I have read recently. If you call paper "data scrolls," airplanes "FTL travel," and drones "drones" you have the level of worldbuilding that Platt brings to the table. It is such halfhearted stuff that you wonder why the author didn't just write this as a mediocre present-day Mafia story, which is what it aspires to be.
Unfortunately, it fails there, too, because the characters are so thin and badly drawn that they barely exist. Our conflicted central character, who murders people on orders, is only conflicted because Platt makes sure to tell us he is, not because there is any sign of actual emotion or motivation in the character. There is also a grizzled cop and a beat reporter (sorry, "blogger," because we are obviously talking far, far future here), if you felt there weren't enough stock characters involved.
A few fun-ish action scenes work, but otherwise this is pretty terrible. I found myself hate-listening for awhile just to see if it would get better. It didn't.
This type of story isn't usually the type of Sci-Fi that I like to read/listen to. The books I normally buy are the space battle and future military-type novels. Somehow, this one stuck out to me. All in all, having finished the first 3 books, I'm, glad it did. The story focuses around a now orphaned teenager (Rath) in the slums of a backwater world. Despite his upbringing and lack of emphasis on education, he has a keen intelligence and photographic memory. After nearly getting caught pick-pocketing a cop, he is recruited by an underground assassin's guild know as the Janus Group. After a grueling initiation and testing phase, the Group offers him the same deal that it offers everyone who passes the tests: Become an assassin for the group and agree to make 50 kills. After 50 kills, you will be given 50% of the money made from your kills (making you insanely wealthy). Refuse to become an assassin, you die. Refuse to take a job, you die. Fail to make the kill, and you die. However, assassins live a life of luxury with all expenses paid, have access to the best medical and military technology, and receive performance-enhancing implants. The deal, especially for Rath who grew up in bitter poverty, is too good to pass up. The story follows Rath over years as he makes kills on gang lords, industrial spies, revolutionary leaders, and cheating spouses. Throughout the story, the main character struggles with the moral and ethical implications of his actions, and comes to wonder how much he can actually trust the Group. Several simultaneous story lines include a reporter tracking the rumors of an underground assassin's guild, and a police detective tracking mysterious deaths and murders. I really liked all of the different future tech that the book explored. It also had so really good characters and an excellent narration. I would definitely recommend this one. Lots of suspense, great story, very good narration, and well worth the credit.