In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.
Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change -- if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice -- help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.
This book sort of threw me for a loop. I really expected something different from what I got. Mainly, I think, because the cover confused me. I was always waiting for Grace to find the secret of immortality was locked in the genetic code of a young woman and she had to try to save her from, I dunno, bad guys. It wasn't until after I finished the book and took another look at the cover that I recognized what was going on. (And I'm going to be a bit nit-picky here and say the colors of the guns' rays in the book were yellow for stun and red for kill. I don't recall seeing a blue. Even in this particular fight scene.)
There were parts of the story I thought should have been developed a little more. There were other things that took a little bit more of the story than I thought necessary. However, I think those were just personal preferences.
I thought Grace was a great protagonist. She was tough and hardened, and yet sensitive and caring when appropriate. She even lamented things that she had to care about, like she couldn't help caring and couldn't stop herself from doing it. More than anything, I thought she was realistic. There were a few mentions of her being beautiful, and she definitely had quite a following of interested parties, but I had a hard time picturing her in my head, which made her a little harder to identify with. I thought the author did a great job making it so that Grace went through some really traumatic stuff; at the time she acted like it was no big deal, but it comes back and haunts her later. I thought that was a great detail.
Alex was a bit of an enigma at first. He was definitely likeable...or was he? In the end I think his character could have used just a bit more development. He was fine, but I think I just wanted more from the leading man that I'm supposed to fall in love with - or at least believe Grace would fall in love with.
The story was exciting. I'm not usually a mystery fan because I get lost in the details. This one had lots of action, and yes it was confusing at times, but it was definitely interesting. I thought the author handled the idea of immortality in a very interesting way. If we all lived forever, there would be massive over-population problems. I also thought it was great how the author showed the passage of time was no big deal for a person who could potentially live forever. Grace worked in the police station mail room for thirty years. Thirty years?! Yeah, well, it's not like she really needed to hurry up and get a promotion.
I really enjoyed the way the author explained certain technology aspects without really explaining them. I didn't feel like I was reading a textbook, but I wasn't lost trying to figure out what a holoset was. There was so much double-crossing that I lost track of who was supposed to be enemies with whom, so that was hard.
The end was a bit jarring, as far as it was left wide open for a sequel and subsequent installments. I'd be interested to find out what happens next but I admit I walked away feeling a little hungry for some closure.
All in all, this wasn't what I expected. It wasn't better, it wasn't worse. It was good. Definitely worth reading for those who enjoy a bit of science fiction and mystery.
Content advisory: semi-heavy language (a lot of instances of mild language, one use of heavy language). Lots of action violence and death, though very little gore. A bit of clean romance; mostly just a growing attraction between two characters.
Barnes & Noble (Paperback and Nook)
“Check him for an ID chip,” McMillan said.
Grace checked both wrists, but didn’t find the tiny metal button that acted both as tag and as a neutral interface for portables. She also did not see any sign that such a chip had been ripped out of his skin by the same people who had stolen his clothing. This man had probably been born on the streets. “Nothing.”
“Good,” McMillan said. He subvocalized an instruction to his portable. It must have opened up a com link because a moment later he said, “Send a cleanup crew to my location beacon…no ID…10-4.”
McMillan turned to Grace. “All right, let’s go.”
“W-wait! Shouldn’t we find out what happened here? Someone murdered this man.”
McMillan actually laughed, a sound that infuriated Grace. He caught a glimpse of her face and the laughter died immediately. “Just like me. I bet I said all the same things my first day. It ain’t fair, is it?”
“So you’re just going to accept it? Accept a man being murdered in the middle of a crowd of witnesses? You’re going to accept not knowing his identity and not letting his family know he’s dead?”
“The cleanup crew will take fingerprints,” McMillan said. “The census gets almost everyone’s fingerprints. If they come up with a contact, they’ll let them know.”
“And if not?” Grace asked.
“Then he’ll join the ranks of the nameless, faceless dead. C’mon, let’s go.”
Grace didn’t move.
“Look, before the day’s out we’ll handle a dozen more like this. We don’t have time to ask questions or take statements. We don’t have time to properly examine the body or the area for clues – most of which have been taken away by other unfortunates.”
It took her a moment to find her voice. When she did, her words dripped out like acid. “Would we have had time if he’d had an ID bracelet?”
“We would not have. We’d have called in the homicide team and they’d decide. Get in the car.”
This time, Grace complied, but she sat in stony silence as McMillan lifted off and began circling the area anew.
“It helps if you don’t think of them as human,” McMillan said after a while. “More than one officer has called this job pest control.”"
About the Author:
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.
Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*