Control Point by Myke Cole
|Book Name:||Shadow Ops: Control Point|
|Publisher(s):||Ace Books (USA) / Headline (UK)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Military Fantasy / Urban Fantasy|
|Release Date:||January 31, 2012 (USA) / Summer (UK)|
“Write what you know,” is normally the first advice any aspiring author is given. But when you write fantasy books, perhaps it’s not the most practical, as magical abilities do not exist within the real world where wars rage for decades across the globe and fear and hate of the unknown are still common place. If a writer does try to bring fantasy into a present day setting, these realities are, more often than not, ignored for the simplicities of small town dramas that involve dealing with the vampire on your doorstep rather than a super-powered person of mass destruction. If you “write what you know,” then small town life is the point of reference for most of us.
Myke Cole, however, has spent most of his life living in a very different place. Working within a military machine, whether it be with the US armed forces or as an independent contractor, he didn’t start wondering what would happen if a werewolf lived on his block. Instead, he pondered the outcome of a Black Hawk gunship being asked to deal with a fire-breathing dragon. He asked himself how would the military react to people suddenly manifesting magical powers that gave them the ability to fly or control fire. Questions that took him into a fresh, exciting place. Questions that led to the creation of Shadow Ops: Control Point.
When society lives in fear and paranoia, as in the communist witch hunts of the 50’s or the post 911 world, it is all too easy to believe that even someone we have known all our lives can suddenly be a threat to society if the state or the media tells us so. Our concerns for our safety and that of our community or country outweigh any bonds formed through friendship or family as we react to the perceived danger rather than our knowledge of the person. Cole doesn’t shirk from this truth but shows us what it must be like to be the hunted in such a situation, the horror of having everyone turn against you through no real fault of your own. Despite being a respected serving officer, his colleagues immediately turn their guns on him. His family and friends offer him no sanctuary. Now a fugitive, Britton doesn’t want to break the law, he just doesn’t want to die. Matters are not helped by Britton’s lack of control over his new and very lethal abilities that therefore turn him into the very thing everyone already fears he is.
Realism is tightly interwoven throughout Cole’s writing, giving the book such power. This isn’t a book of black and white heroes, it’s the real world where everyone lives in shades of grey, where being right just depends on what side of the fence you are sitting on. One man’s terrorist is, after all, another man’s freedom fighter. Britton and the other characters in the book are just trying to make the best of the hand they have been dealt, often making as many wrong decisions as they do correct ones as they just try to survive. On a superficial level, one could say the US military is the bad guy in Control Point but the reality is that they are just an imperfect organization that’s found itself fighting a war in a world where, once again, the rules have changed and everyone is simply trying to work out what the new rules are.
Control Point isn’t a heavy book though; trying to make any sort of political statement on the world we live in. It’s a non-stop thrill ride that’s almost impossible to put down, written in a wide-screen style that screams summer blockbuster and should have the Michael Bays of this world scrambling for their chequebooks. Peter V. Brett describes it as “Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men,” and that says it all. Bunker down as the fireballs fly with the bullets and enjoy one of 2012’s most exciting debuts.