When the local authorities ask Kyle Juenger to hunt a shape-shifting Glyrinny spy, he can't refuse. After all, he can use the reward to replace his paralyzed legs with cyberware, and maybe even to return to his home planet. Besides, he hates the morphs - those invasive, brain-eating monstrosities whose weapons cost him his legs.
Kyle's best lead is the Scorpion, a mercenary ship armed to the teeth. Grimm, the Scorpion's pilot and captain, fascinates Kyle. He's everything Kyle lost with his legs, and he's from the same home world. He's also of the warrior caste - half priest, half savior. But Grimm's been twisted by life as a merc, and Kyle's stuck undercover as a criminal on the run.
That doesn't stop Grimm from coming on to Kyle, or from insisting he's more than the sum of his past and his useless legs. But Kyle has other concerns - like tracking a dangerous morph who could be wearing anyone's face. And as if things weren't complicated enough, Kyle can't tell if Grimm is part of the solution... or part of the problem.
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Gripping, personal, a fantastic collaboration
Equally compelling, but the audio kicked it up a notch. Definitely a collaboration meant to be.
This is a deeply personal story. Most of all, for Kyle, the main character and through whose eyes and heart and body we experience what is surely only one of many journeys for him. His is the umbrella of a metaphor for all of the others contained within. They’re subtle but definite, gently nudging but undeniable and unmistakable. Self-acceptance, altering one’s thinking which leads to realizations and new points of view, and most important of them all is seeing how we as individuals fit within our world even as it changes around us. Control is almost always out of reach and Kyle has learned and continues to learn this through some quite unpleasant as well as most enjoyable ways.
This story is a bit of an anomaly in the general sci-fi world in that it’s not a tome, overflowing with mind-cramming detail and bloated world-building. Instead, I was easily placed within this universe of Kyle’s, quickly learning how the economy worked, what kind of agencies and institutions were vying for that squirrely control, and who was more or less likely to suffer because of those struggles. Kyle was on the front lines.
There are some scenes where things feel rushed, almost like skipping stones across the surface of the water. I’m getting most of the story but it feels like some things are missing, like the connection isn’t completely made or potential skimmed.
I’d read this book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. It wasn’t tops on my list but it’s Voinov and his ability to choose every single word and combination of words seemingly perfectly so it’s better than most. This audio experience, though… by the time I’d come to the end, I felt like I’d just landed after having been transported to a special, intense, important, and sexy world. I felt oddly and wonderfully subdued, filled with compassion, content, and open.
In other words, this story and this narrator were meant to come together.
Also, I now really want to know the where, how, and what for Kyle and his future. So many interesting questions and idears started popping up in my ol’ noggin.
I hope Gomez Pugh will forgive me when I say that narrating, ne storytelling, is one of the things he was clearly born to do. He knows where to place emphasis on words and phrases, altering his volume and cadence, both in single moments and as each character. He’s into it, pulling me into it, the story, without becoming an overwhelming focus, without putting himself and his voice into the center, replacing the story. It’s such a fine line and he dances along, beside, and across it with perfection. Believe me, that’s no exaggeration.
When I read, I sometimes have clear voices for the characters and sometimes I don’t. That’s not a reflection of the writing or the characters or the story, I just don’t always cement the sounds of them for myself as I’m reading. Pugh has given me a voice for Kyle, and it was unexpected and fantastic at that, adding to his grinding, gritty existence and instinctual pull towards survival. He’s given me voices for Grimm (I can hear his smirk and his power and his intelligence) and Winter (sarcastic, strong, and certain) and the asshole officer and hoity toity receptionist, all of the bit players getting their fair representation.
I’m not off to go find everything he’s narrated, which includes a certain cop series that I love.
* Originally reviewed for Prism Book Alliance®
Great sci-fi storie.