‘Javelin Rain’ is a direct sequel to ‘Gemini Cell’. You’ll definitely want to (should) read the first book to get a good handle on the back story, because author Myke Cole doesn’t waste a lot of time catching you up. He’s too busy keeping former SEAL Jim Schweitzer one step ahead of his pursuers!
Schweitzer has escaped from the Gemini Cell, a secret government program where corpses are reanimated by binding the souls of the recently dead with the souls of the long dead. The latter are referred to as jinn and their time in the soul storm, where we all apparently go after we die, has pretty much destroyed any humanity they might once have possessed. They’re mad, without exception, and hunger for two things: life and blood. Installing these souls in the recently deceased caters to neither of these hungers. The resulting operator, however, is imbued with a bloodlust like none other and, because the body is already dead, they become the ultimate killing machine. Gunfire merely rips a new hole in dead flesh. Broken bones can be supported by the magic holding the body together. In many cases, the ‘frame’ is strengthened by additional plates and braces.
Since ejecting the jinn bound to his corpse and his soul, Schweitzer has been on the run. He has two missions: protect his wife and son and bring down the Gemini Cell. Unfortunately, his escape has been classified as a ‘javelin rain’ event, meaning no measure is too extreme if it results in his capture.
The attempts to recapture Schweitzer result in a horrifying amount of collateral damage, making ‘Javelin Rain’ perhaps the darkest ‘Shadow Ops’ novel yet. If Myke Cole set out to question what makes us human, he succeeded in giving many examples of what does not. In the macro, this is demonstrated by the many atrocities visited upon innocent civilians, the strife within the program itself and the unveiling of the true meaning and purpose of the initial experiments. In the micro, this question is answered through Schweitzer’s struggle to remain a man, even after he no longer bears any resemblance to the husband and father he once was.
This was the story thread I clung to as I waded through the unfolding horror. Schweitzer is a compelling character whom I enjoyed getting to know in ‘Gemini Cell’. It’s not hard to cheer him on and hope that, at the end of the day, he not only achieves his goal, but finds a measure of peace for himself and his family.
The action is pretty much non-stop from the first page to the last, making ‘Javelin Rain’ a fast read. It almost feels like a headlong rush toward the inevitable and yet the story is far from done. Looking forward, we have a new secondary plot thread involving Schweitzer’s son that I am very much invested in and a new handful of characters that will likely play important roles in the final showdown.
My hope for the next book is that we see a little more levity. Just enough to mitigate Schweitzer’s rage. Otherwise, I fear we’ll lose him and that would be a devastating blow to this reader. I’d also like a hint that at the end of the day, whether Schweitzer succeeds in his mission or not, he will find more than a measure of peace. That he can rest, wherever he ends up, knowing his efforts were not in vain and, if it’s not too much to ask, with his humanity intact.
Wherever Cole takes the story next, however, I will be along for the ride. His unique blend of might and magic is unlike anything else currently being written. I’m eager to see what else he has in store for us.
(pub: Ace Books. 352 page paperback and ebook. Paperback: Price: $ 6.13 (US), £ 5.50 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-42526-965-7. Ebook: Price: $ 7.99 (US), £ 6.99 (UK). ASIN: B0113LYBW2)