Book Review: Digital Plague and Eternal Prison

If you’ve read my review of Jeff Somers’ Electric Church, you won’t be surprised that I immediately started reading The Digital Plague, followed slightly less immediately—due to availability—by Eternal Prison.*

I liked Digital Plague.  I loved Eternal Prison.

In Digital Plague, things are going well for Avery Cates.  He’s rich, he’s pushing back at the System of Federated Nations and the System Security Force, and he’s no longer a loner.  But someone from his past wants revenge on Avery . . . and through him, on the entire human race.  Avery is injected with a nanovirus and becomes Patient Zero for a plague that eats its victims from the inside out and reanimates them into near-unstoppable, brain-dead machines.  Avery Cates needs to fight off his dead friends and keep his enemies close so he can shut down the nanos’ programming before his immunity is stripped from him.

As I said, I liked this book.  I’m not the biggest zombie fan, though the reasons behind the reanimation make a lot of sense, especially in the context of the bad guy’s agenda.  Having said that, it was Avery’s emotional state that hooked me.  Here’s a man who had nothing to lose and won it all.  Now he has something, maybe even someone, and a bit of autonomy . . . but in Avery’s world, that means bad stuff is about to happen.

Unlike Electric Church, which in my opinion could stand alone, Digital Plague doesn’t offer much rest at the end before segueing into Eternal Prison—which knocked my socks off  as far as the first book did, if for slightly different reasons.

In Eternal Prison, something is wrong with Avery Cates—something that may be related to the supposedly inescapable Death Valley “interment camp” he and many other Persons of Interest were thrown into for reasons unknown.

But Avery has other things to worry about: the System of Federated Nations and the System Security Force have parted ways and are amassing Avatar troops and firepower for what will not be a Cold War.  Avery, as reluctantly coerced as always, has been hired by the SFN to assassinate the head of the SFF . . . a man who is a little more, or a little less, than human.

In other words, there’s a war in hell, and Avery Cates is right in the middle of it.  Again.

Besides being a good, gritty read, this book raises some interesting questions about what it means to be human.  Where the Monks of the Electric Church were living brains trapped in robotic shells, Avatars’ knowledge bases and personalities have been extracted digitally and placed in artificial and super-enhanced bodies.   But maybe they are just as trapped.

And maybe some of them don’t know.  If you think you’re human, are you?

Avery Cates doesn’t spend much time thinking about these things—he’s a little busy—but the reader can’t help it.  Or at least this reader couldn’t help it.

I would love to share my absolute favorite part of Eternal Prison, but I can’t—it would ruin everything that Mr. Somers wove in Part One.   I will say that the last page of that section had me sitting up and yelling, “No way!”   I also appreciated that Avery gets a bit of rest at the end . . . and an independent purpose.

Which leads me, I hope, to Terminal State, which should be delivered to my door any minute now.**

Until then, I’ll content myself with browsing Mr. Somers’ blog.   I recommend his Ask Jeff Anything video series for anything that ails you.

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*I bought Eternal Prison, loaned it to a friend while reading Digital Plague, and then had to wait for her to come back from Denmark.  She could have mailed it, but she would have beaten it home anyway—and I guess I can’t blame her for declining to spend $45 to ship a $7 book overnight air.

**Sandy, if you’re reading this, it’s a felony to tamper with the U.S. mail.  It should be a crime to take a borrowed book over International borders without asking, but since you brought it back, I’ll let it pass this time.

Book Review: The Case of the Lucky Legs

Patricia Abbott has posted the review I did on Erle Stanley Gardiner’s Case of the Lucky Legs for her Friday’s Forgotten Books feature. 

Lucky Legs is one of Mr. Gardiner’s earliest Perry Mason mysteries and is far grittier than television restrictions allowed the well-known series to be.

If you’d like to take a look, the review is here.

Random Thursday Thoughts . . . With Even More Random!

The Potty-Training Cold War appears to have reached détente.*  Sunny is running for the potty without reminders**—she even tells us to pause whatever we’re doing until she comes back.  Her, ah, solid output, shall we say, has also regulated itself, so that we aren’t all anxiously observing her from across the room on Day Three like a bomb squad, hoping our response time is up to sniff snuff.    It’s a glorious feeling of  (please pardon the pun) relief.

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Free ‘flu shots at the library today for city employees!  After filling out the form and standing in line for a while, I discovered two things:  they don’t give you the ‘flu shot if they hear you coughing like Violetta in La Traviata, so I have to go to an alternate location next week.    Also, it’s the largest, strongest people (think Public Works or Fire Department) who have both the worst needle phobias and co-workers who will never, ever, let them forget the time they fainted, wiping out the city nurse.***

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The books on Medieval Spain that I’m borrowing through Interlibrary Loan are starting to come in—I’m hoping to set my next story there.  It’s a fascinating time and place—beautiful architecture, music, poetry . . . and Muslims, Christians, and Jews all lived together in apparent tolerance and even harmony.  One wonders what they knew that so many of us refuse to?  Maybe I’ll find out.

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All the teachers on Janie’s report card stated that she needed to pay more attention to them in the classroom, with the exception of her art instructor, who said, “Janie is in her own wonderful, artistic world.” 

I like that woman.

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I just finished Jeff Somer’s Eternal Prison.  I’m planning on doing a review, because the Avery Cates series is holy cow amazing—but I just want to say that the last two pages of Part One dropped my jaw so hard it hurt. I’m not the world’s most gullible reader,^ but you got me, Mr. Somers.  It worked.

 

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My famous baked chicken nuggets tonight—or, I hope, my husband’s.  Same recipe, except in his version—and this is very important—I don’t have to cook.

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*That starving-woodpecker sound you hear is me knocking wood.

**Which had become a matter as delicately balanced as nuclear disarmament negotiations:  ask just once too often, and she’d close down talks, preferring to let her eyeballs float than set foot in the bathroom.

*** She remembers this, too, and has everyone taller than her sit down before she comes near them.  Smart lady.

^Stop laughing, you guys—I said reader.

But I digress . . .

I can finally breathe without hurting myself,* I finished not just one but two chapters —one for each project**—fired them off to their respective destinations . . .

. . . and knocked off early to spend the past half hour searching for something I barely remembered from my misspent youth:

Comedy gold, I tell you.

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*Though the cough remains. It sounds like I’d auditioning for the role of Coffin Harriet in a genderbending version of Soul Music.   One brownie point if you get the reference, two if you can supply the author.

**If anyone’s wondering, I kept the Redhead.   She’ll give my critiquers something to sink their teeth into.  They like that.  A lot.