Book of the Year 2014 (see all)
Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole is the concluding book in the Shadow Ops trilogy, and what a trilogy it has been. I've been a strong proponent of these books right from the start, and in my opinion, Cole has not only met my expectations but easily exceeded them. I'm not going to bother trying to hide my inner fanboy in this review because Breach Zone does everything the concluding book in a trilogy should do - it explores important themes, it entertains the heck out of the reader, and it ties up the important loose ends in a way that left me very satisfied.
The story of Breach Zone is the invasion of Earth on multiple fronts by the inhabitants of the source, a deadly and brutal magic-wielding force lead by the indomitable Scylla. Scylla has put out a rallying cry to all people who have come up latent, to all the 'selfers' who are in hiding or on the run - come and support me in New York and together we shall rule the world. The SOC are in trouble, they are undermanned, they are unprepared for the ferocity of the invasion, and the rest of the world kind of wants them to fail. It would be easier to just give in. I loved this story. It gave off a real X-men vibe with the whole latent's rights movement. The Scylla flashbacks were excellent, the action was intricately choreographed, people were forced to make big decisions, and the consequences were huge. The story felt like a natural conclusion to the trilogy, but it also felt like Cole could keep on writing book after book if he wanted to and turn Shadow Ops into an ongoing series like The Dresden Files.
Like in Control Point and Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone gives the main character duty to a different character, and for this book it's Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorrson, also know as Harlequin. Yep, that douchebag from the first two books, who managed to somewhat redeem himself at the end of the second book, is our eyes and ears for the majority of Breach Zone. Sure I would have liked a few more scenes from the Fortress Frontier hero Alan Bookbinder, but Breach Zone is not about the coming of age for a military leader, it's about taking a lifelong military officer and repeatedly putting him into positions where he has to choose between "the greater good" and what is morally right. Thus it makes Harlequin the perfect candidate, and I'm glad Cole went with him.
Reading through the book, the only thing that didn't really work for me was some of the portrayal of the senior military leaders throughout the book. The Shadow Ops books are full of these great junior officers who show strong leadership in the face of adversity, and they are often contrasted with these senior officers who are often shown to be timid, incompetent, corrupt, lacking in common sense or just plain bad when put into the same situations. There was one scene in particular when a sergeant strikes a very young junior officer for being an idiot, and senior officer uses Article 90 of the UCMJ to arrest the sergeant and threaten her with a death sentence. It was ridiculous, it was supposed to be ridiculous, and it was handled by the main character as a ridiculous act. This scene on its own would not have been a problem, but consider that every other senior military officer in this book is portrayed as having a remarkable lack of common sense, this scene did nothing but grate on me. I accept that there are going to be some bad eggs, but not that every egg is a bad egg. But, its not a big issue, and looking back it definitely pales in comparison with how much fun I had reading this book.
From the small beginnings in Control Point where a young man suddenly manifests a weird (and prohibited) magic, to the Earth-shattering events of Breach Zone where a powerful witch instigates a full-scale invasion of New York from a parallel dimension, Cole has shown he has the guts to go big or go home. He went big with Breach Zone, and from my point of view he knocked it out of the park.
Breach Zone by Myke Cole
Publisher: Headline Jan 28, 2014
Review by Ryan Lawler
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