So, there’s no Seriously Geeky Sundays here this week. Whilst Heather has formed some beautiful questions for fans of comics, I cannot take part… because I know naff all about them! Definitely check out the work of the other writers taking part though, they are all super talented!
Anyway, to fill the post-shaped hole in my blog, I figured I’d do a quick book review for an awesome indie publication that I recently stumbled upon, Behind Blue Eyes, by Anna Mocikat. Just as a heads-up, this won’t be a great, long meandering thing, just a nice, quickfire review that hopefully will help a great writer sell their equally great story!
So what is Behind Blue Eyes about? Let’s find out…
In the future, the world is a pretty grim place. War led to the collapse of governments across the world, vast swathes of the earth are plunged into nuclear winter, and three giant corporations have risen out of the rubble to kickstart the New Era, forming three huge countries run by the nastier side of capitalism, shady politics and, of course, buckets of corruption.
The story takes place in the city of Olympias I, built atop the ruins of former Atlanta, Georgia. The city is highly advanced, a temple of extreme living and indulgence. The Olympias corporation provides it’s citizens with the perfect lifestyle, allowing people to enhance themselves with augmented technology and indulge in their wildest fantasies. The citizenry of Olympias love their lives.
And so they should, because anyone speaks out against it, or tries to go it alone outside of the corporation’s influence, might get a visit from the Guardian Angel corps, a small army of highly advanced, and very dangerous, cyborg warriors that do whatever needs to be done to protect the Olympias way of life.
Our protagonist is Nephilim, and up-and-coming Angel who will stop at nothing to protect the company’s morals and laws, and also gain the attention of the High Archangel, Metatron. Working with her partner, Adriel, Nephilim will do whatever it takes to succeed.
But things are about to change for Nephilim. After suffering an attack from an experimental EMP weapon, she finds herself cut off from the Grid, the network that connect the Angels, and everything else in Olympias, together. Tempted by a newfound freedom, Nephilim ventures out into the seedy underbelly of the city, and gets herself into a conspiracy that threatens to topple everything.
To tell you anything more would risk spoling the story at this point. There are some great twists and turns, so I wouldn’t want to be a party pooper.
Behind Blue Eyes is a great example of the cyberpunk genre, a subset of science fiction that tells stories typically set in dystopian, urban environments, and tends to villify the more extreme facets of capitalism, whilst the heroes exist in the lower ends of the social scale, taking on the corporations to eke out a living. Some famous examples of cyberpunk fiction would be the Deus Ex games, books like Neuromancer, and movies like Blade Runner and it’s sequel which is frankly a masterpiece.
Behind Blue Eyes has Nephilim as its central character. At the beginning of the story she is cold, arrogant and uncaring, a career-driven killer who never questions her masters and doesn’t care how many have to die for her to succeed. As time goes on, however, Nephilim begins to change, second-guessing herself and her orders, doing out-of-character things and lying to her superiors.
Things get even worse for Nephilim once she escapes from the Grid, unsupervised for the first time in her life and curious about the world she works to protect. Once she meets the mysterious Jake, she discovers her humanity for the first time, and actually becomes a protagonist we can truly root for. It’s a nice bit of character development, showing what happens when we don’t just blindly think of ourselves, or so as we’re told without question. To suddenly realise that there’s more to the world, to open our eyes to the lives of other people, it’s powerful stuff really, and makes Nephilim a really likable character.
Whilst not likeable, as such, her boss Metatron is still a brilliant antagonist. Cold, cunning, and vicious, he commands the Angels through respect, and his subordinates through fear. He’s the human/cyborg equivalent of a tiger, prowling the city, taking whatever he likes for his indulgences. I think he may have grown to become my favourite character by the end, his motivations and alliances kept me guessing right up to the last page.
I really could wax lyrical about Behind Blue Eyes all night, but then if I keep you here, you can’t go out and buy it, can you? There’s also a sequel recently released, Fallen Angels, which continues the story with just as much energy and mystery to it.
Go get it read, you won’t regret it!