BOOK REVIEW— ‘Codename Velocity’ by Schuyler Thorpe

About ‘Codename Velocity’ by Schuyler Thorpe:

“On the eve of her 20th birthday, Velocity’s life as a genetically engineered bio-weapon has hit an impasse. For one, nobody knows when they’ll be sent on their first real mission and that’s been driving her nuts. Her second problem is her ongoing relationship with her Controller. It’s been at a standstill for awhile now and Velocity is worried that she’ll miss a chance at some real romance if something doesn’t happen fast.

Despite some assurances from her close friend and partner, Velocity decides to jump the shark a bit in that department, which creates its own set of problems–both good and bad.

In the midst of that, rumors start flying about the Compound with regards to the true nature of the war, the Horde, and the effectiveness of Project Titan–giving everyone reason to question and doubt their own abilities and skills.

Even worse, an upcoming–and last minute–training drill may end up testing everyone to their limits before they even cross paths with the enemy. And it’s an event that will have everyone putting all their eggs into one basket and seeing things through the bitter end–no matter what it costs.

And for Velocity, the Combat Arena may be the only place left where she can find some personal absolution in the end. The only question is will she be able to accept it?”

FourStars

Let me start off by saying I hate how my review came out. I mostly pick apart the author’s writing style and representation of certain characters because they received a lot of flack from people for it so I felt the need to detail my thoughts on what was complained about….

One of the biggest complaints I hear from consumers is that there are no truly new ideas out there. Meanwhile, many writers fear that their work may be too predictable or not ‘new’ enough to interest those looking for something fresh. ‘Codename Velocity’ takes place in a far-future version of Earth where everything from science to culture to psychology to relationships is vastly different than anything we currently know or conceive. As well, the characters are all unique in personality, abilities, interactions, and reactions.

On the scientific aspect, it can be likened to reading about technology from a superior alien race that we (as humans are now) can only barely grasp the concept of. The way characters interact or are told to conduct themselves from psych professionals is sometimes the exact opposite of how it would be in the current real world. The culture is the thing closest to what we know, but with refreshing alterations such as how non-heterosexual or non-monogomous relationships simply exist without need for explanation and without provoking fear or hatred from said normatives.

In a war-torn apocalyptic world, what could best be described as super soldiers (such as Velocity) are bred and trained to combat a fearsome alien force known as the horde, which threatens to devour the planet. Velocity’s powers are a type of speed and agility based on concepts of gravity, light, and mass. Velocity has only recently broken out of the shell to which her mind was forced in order to deal with terrible trauma. Her relationship with her girlfriend is sweet (although their sexual encounters do not seem to portray complete realism of lesbian sex. But, as I said, everything about this story is based on the concept of an entirely new world that has almost nothing to do with our own reality), though somewhat codependent (personal take on the matter). She is fully supportive of Velocity emotionally and even of her pursuit of another (male) romantic partner (who is likewise supportive of the polyamorous arrangement).

It’s far from being a light read, but it is an interesting one. Many things are left up to the reader to put together. Not in the sense that the plot isn’t clear, but in that the author doesn’t just outline every single detail. I think this is cool because it makes the audience think and learn to infer or collect knowledge from multiple sources along the way…which reflects the numerous facets of the world and its infinite nuances that constantly change or are interpreted differently based on the individual’s existence and mindset. It also gives the feeling that we are in Velocity’s head, forced to think as she thinks (and not as we ourselves do) and having to put everything together (including at times her emotions) along with her rather than having it laid bare for us. Another thing I’d like to point out is how the dialogue is not entirely precise like most authors typically write. The characters ramble, they repeat themselves, they get off-topic…and none of this is a bad thing. It helps the reader further understand the world and characters in a natural way and makes it feel as though you are actually eavesdropping rather than consuming a concise speech.

There are a lot of aspects both psychological and scientific to be unraveled and studied purely through the reader’s own take and analysis that some might prefer to have actually described in full, but the author’s style of presenting a scenario and letting the audience figure out many of the details is thought-provoking and unique to itself. Another cool thing about the story is how these soldiers learn about Earth history. It shows the incredible journey our world has taken in this version of it. Their references to old sayings, movies, etc from the era we are currently living in real life is really cute and quirky.

With as much as this book has going on, it would have also been boring had the reader narrated every little thing. This massively unique and purely creative take how a people and their advancement (even that of our own world) could be is what makes ‘Codename Velocity’ so intriguing. But be sure to enter its atmosphere with that in mind though, or the content will be lost on you. This is not a world you know. This is not a world you would have fully conceived based on what you do know. The characters and their experiences are their own, not to be compared to actual persons from the reality in which we live. It’s a book that you must pay close attention to.

Now that this first installment has thrown me into abandoning what I know to align my thinking to how their minds/culture/etc are, I’m interested to see what happens in book 2. Especially since my favorite aspect of the plot which entails a previously hidden and fantastical achievement that Velocity has was not revealed until closer to the end. Kudos to the author for a truly new experience with characters and plot that is, in a word, mind-altering.

My main complaints are for one, that it was sometimes difficult to keep up with. I do wish a few things were a little more clear, but if you give it its due focus, the important things are mostly present. A couple things required a bit more thought than was convenient for a casual read, but could be figured out if you wished to take the time. The other thing is what I briefly mentioned above in regards to the lesbian relationship. It isn’t an accurate portrayal of real lesbian sexual relationships which at a few moments felt outright misogynistic. But one thing that must be remembered that the girls are not lesbians, but are bisexual.

However, only one of these things (the use of mostly only oral sex) cannot be accounted for by analyzing the two characters involved. For instance, there is a scene where Velocity comments that her girlfriend just hasn’t had the right dick yet and ***** her with a dildo while pretending to be some other male character. From a general standpoint, it is an offensive portrayal, but judging by their personal relationship, I saw this as Velocity, knowing her gf is bisexual but scared of a relationship with a male after the heartbreaking loss of her boyfriend, trying to help her past her grief and fear to regain the ability to pursue the numerous males she still finds attractive. I really only disliked the use of the word virginity in reference of having hetero-sex even though it is later clarified in a comment from the girlfriend that the puncture is the loss of virginity, not sex with a male. This does go back to the ‘only oral’ aspect though and also seems to portray belief that anything other than puncture is not ‘real’ sex.

These two are both highly sexual and Velocity does more than once take her girlfriend’s amazing support for granted. In this story at least, she is willing to flirt/kiss/enter relationships/etc with other people if she feels like it, without real regard for how it affects her girlfriend. But this is a fault of the character, not a comment or belief regarding polyamorous or lesbian persons. Studying Velocity, you can see that due to her trauma which left her with a fear of loss, abandonment, and being alone, actually has difficulty saying no to people who have ever acted or spoken in any way like they loved her.

As I said, it seems that the girlfriend is codependent. She is willing to sacrifice her own worth and needs to make Velocity happy. In regards to Velocity’s male love interest, this at first comes off as a portrayal that her girlfriend is less important and could be interpreted as a comment that if a male is in the picture, he is inherently more important/better than any female partner. However, by psycho-analyzing these two girls, you can see that isn’t the case. It isn’t to do with him being male, but the man specifically as a person. Even later on in the story, you see that the girlfriend isn’t really okay with being second place and Velocity, while maintaining her position that she loves both partners equally, has to re-evaluate her feelings and her actions in this matter. She’s a very dynamic character: constantly changing.

The last comment I want to make is that her relationship with her male partner can be considered creepy, considering she was ‘sort of’ raised by him. But the advancement of their relationship is mature. He was never in love with Velocity and seems to only be trying to be in a relationship with her at this point (now that she’s an adult) because she herself has pressed the matter. Regardless, it is a work of fiction and I personally don’t see this as any worse than the stories about immortal vampires in a relationship young, even young teen persons or ‘imprinting’ on people as young as children (btw the erotic sex in the story is not between this male figure and Velocity, but instead focused on her and her girlfriend). It is simply telling a story, not promoting relationships that would be deemed inappropriate in real life. It is largely due to the writing style of leaving the reader to put a lot of things together that give it these sometimes misogynistic feelings as it is up to the reader to understand why some of these things are happening as they are. But if those topics are sensitive to you, this may not be your type of story.

Buy the ebook here.

You can find Robert Leonard on:
Twitter @SchuylerThorpe
Goodreads
Amazon

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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden

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