Breach Zone by Myke Cole
|Book Name:||Breach Zone|
|Publisher(s):||Ace (US) Headline (UK)|
|Formatt:||Paperback / eBook|
|Release Date:||January 28, 2014|
After reading Control Point, book one in the Shadow Ops series, I insisted you “bunker down as the fireballs fly with the bullets and enjoy one of 2012’s most exciting debuts” with the introduction of Oscar Britton and a world where magic not only exists, but is also utilized by the military. In book two, Fortress Frontier, I said Cole “simply turns everything up to 11” with “real edge of your seat stuff” as attention shifted to Alan Bookbinder, and the Source of magic – another world reached only by teleportation, full of dangerous creatures and war-like goblins. Personally after upping the stakes so much in that book, I didn’t think there was much room to increase the excitement any more, but I was wrong.
In Breach Zone, Jan Thorsten, call sign Harlequin, takes center stage as an invasion force from the Source arrives in New York City, led by the woman known as Scylla, intent on setting magic users up above all other humans. In many ways, it’s The Avengers verses The Lord of the Rings with all the grand spectacle you’d expect from that head-to-head. Black Hawk helicopters swoop in to deal with giant birds; army troops make valiant last stands against magic-wielding demi-gods; and one man holds the fate of the world in his hands and struggles to deal with the responsibility.
It may be all-out war in NYC, but Cole doesn’t forget that it’s the characters that make or break a book. On a surface level, Harlequin is his version of Captain America, a poster child for the Armed Forces who was very much of the ‘don’t think, just follow orders’ school of soldiering –however the events of Fortress Frontier have left him a very changed man. His idealism has been knocked by experiencing first-hand how the system is not infallible, and how his powers give him a far greater responsibility than just doing what he’s told to do. His newfound conscience may not be the best thing to develop as New York comes down around his ears because now he’s got to win the war the right way.
In Scylla, Cole has also created a very worthy villain for his world but she’s not some cardboard cutout of a bad guy, screaming for world domination. Instead we see what tragedy put her on this path. After all, she’s the real hero in her own mind, simply trying to look after her people, betrayed by a government that fears them.
Bookbinder and Britton are back as well. Bookbinder’s still in the army, but sidelined, struggling with the effects that his time in the Source had on both his military career as well as his marriage. Britton, on the other hand, is still enemy number one, using his high profile to seek greater freedom for magic users. Ironically Scylla’s cause is not dissimilar to his own and the big question is when the time comes, what side will he support?
Breach Zone is the work of an author confidently knocking it out of the park, juggling the fate of the world with real characters with personal agendas that you actually care about. This isn’t just some superhero slugfest with all-American heroes trading blows with evil forces – at its heart it’s a love story of two people pulled apart by forces beyond their control, both trying to do the right thing no matter what the personal cost to themselves in the most horrible of circumstances. And again it’s a testament to Cole’s ability that the intimate moments are just as compelling as the man against monster encounters, if not more so.
That’s not to say the war isn’t incredibly well executed because it certainly is. Cole has first-hand experience not just in Iraq but also dealing with disaster response in his role with the US Coast Guard. This gives everything believability no matter how incredible things become – Harlequin battles just as much with bureaucracy as he does with the enemy; the media play a vital part in the war effort but also hinder the troops ability to respond to danger; and his characters react very much as real people – often with uncertainty, making mistakes and learning the hard way as people die around them.
Breach Zone is all you could hope for and more. Exciting and emotional, a page-turner in every sense of the word. Everyone should read this series. Hollywood should be pestering Cole with their checkbooks because summer blockbusters are crying out for tales like this. Bravo, Myke Cole. Bravo.