Genre: Science Fiction; Dystopian; Cyberpunk
With the debacle of the Combat Arena fresh in the minds of everyone present, the hunt for a culprit begins.
For Velocity, it’s a period of calm and personal unrest as things begin to gel together relationship wise with her ex-rival. But curious hallucinations begin to crop up on the young woman’s part–forcing her to come to grips with a reality unlike the one she once knew.
Faced with the unbending truth about her existence, Velocity spends what seems like decades inside the comfort of a holotech program specially designed for her and her only–utilizing many support programs in the guise of her closest friends and superiors.
But not everything goes according to plan. A rogue program designed to train her in the past has now popped up unexpectedly within the programming substructure itself–presenting a possible danger to Velocity herself.
But as her first and only encounter with the Quickstrike program leaves her in a coma for 16 days, a second encounter with a beta version of it presents her with a possible solution to this terminal existence. But what began as a search for the truth leads Velocity to the steps of the last person that she least expected was responsible for keeping her inside the program for all time.
And what she discovers in the end will make her question her life all over again…
I have also reviewed these other titles by Schuyler Thorpe:
Codename Velocity (book 1)
I heard it said several times that the challenge of a series is making sure each new book is as good as or better than the last. With ‘Quickstrike,’ the author has met that challenge. I enjoyed this installment even more than the first. That being said, I’m going to have trouble writing this review because most things that I’d like to comment on specifically, would likely give something away about the book, so bear with me!
‘Quickstrike’ begins with a conversation amongst a group of scientists, controllers, and an Overseer who are discussing issues with their projects and missions. The dialogue is delivered with an ominous and even dubious air, with only parts of it being familiar to the reader. It was the perfect setup for the rest of the book.
Afterward, we’re returned to the Compound where Velocity is continuing to go about her life as per usual (with the added experiences of her newest romantic partner). However, the comments and emotions of that beginning discussion in the reader’s brain keeps us afoot; and with Velocity’s must-act attitude, the pace soon enough shifts out of the normality of the truths outlined in book 1, and into one in which everything is questioned.
I mentioned with ‘Codename Velocity’ (book 1) that the story was a bit hard to keep up with at points even though the most important parts were clear. With ‘Quickstrike,’ I didn’t get that feeling at all. In fact, it seems that this installment made every single thing that didn’t fully make sense in the first story, all fit together quite nicely. Included in that are things which were complained about, such as the strangeness of the relationships and the horrid abuse the young soldiers endured without anyone thinking anything negative of it as a real person would have. So if you had that problem with the first book and are unsure about continuing, please give this one a shot.
‘Quickstrike,’ although detailed, was also much faster paced than the first. Unsurprisingly (as most firsts in a series are like this), book 1 felt more like a setup of the characters and world while book 2 was focused on mysteries and plot twists. By the end, I was hanging on each moment.
I was entirely pleased that this book kept something I viewed as extremely valuable to the story, and that was the author’s ability to make you think. I mean sure, some readers are going to take the story at face value and yes, maybe I over-analyze things, BUT (foregoing information that would spoil) Schuyler Thorpe has crafted an interesting story with existential debates so intriguing you may even begin to doubt your own position in the universe.
The author has taken artificial intelligence, computer programming, genetic engineering, the end of humanity, aliens, virtual reality, what some would call ‘supernatural’ abilities, philosophy, and even the spiritual to craft a unique setting that truly made me wonder just how ‘real’ or how subjective reality is. Not only that, but the bigger questions in life such as: How will it all end? Is there life after our own apocalypse? Hope? Life after death? Life before life? Is there really any escape from fate? Are we all just basically computers, programmed to do whatever our creator wishes while feeling about it as that creator wants us to?
It’s a really mind-boggling feeling and I absolutely loved it. I think the story at face value is entertaining enough, but if you’re like me and do appreciate the heavier thoughts, you’ll enjoy it even more. The last thing I want to leave you with (since, as I said, I really don’t like spoiling) is that Velocity’s evolution, regression, and re-evolution was beautiful. You see a good deal of it between these two books, but even more of it is revealed through reminiscing moments and the like.
Something to be said for how all the lengthy experience and jumping back and forth before realizing which way is the way she should grow, relates to true life. Our paths may seem linear, but the mind is not. It will go in multiple directions (and sometimes multiple times) before it finally figures everything out. And to compliment this was Velocity’s uncertainty about her identity and her seeming incapability to feel too negatively about her creators regardless of what they have done and continue to do. The author keeps you in Velocity’s head from start to finish, his writing style having you feel, think, and experience every mystery, every betrayal, and all the confusion just as she does.
Holy Hell, am I even ready for book 3?
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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