After a highly successful outing with his blistering take on Military Urban Fantasy in the Shadow Op trilogy series, Myke Cole returns back to his gorgeously realized world that has seen the “Great Awakening” – with this new novel, Gemini Cell. And this time, he is in unstoppable scintillating form.
Gemini Cell is a sort of prequel set in the same world – years before the events that are detailed in his first series. So the magic is still unexplored or unexplained. People going “latent” or manifesting their magical abilities are just about popping up around this world. The US Military SOC is still in its infancy and shrouded in secret. And into this setting ripe for exploring, Myke drops his protagonist Jim Schweitzer – a US Navy SEAL struggling to comprehend what really struck him.
Myke’s novels have tremendous mass appeal – He brought the curtains down on the tale of Oscar Britton, Book Binder and Harlequin versus Scylla (For those of you who have not read the Shadow Ops trilogy – do yourself a favor and go read them! Refreshing, original take on Urban Fantasy with enough explosions and kick-ass action to satisfy your Michael Bay cravings!!) in full style. Here, the tale of the Great Awakening finds its roots in Gemini Cell – with a fresh new “hero”. Myke shifts gears this time and tackles newer themes. I won’t be surprised if people come up with new “sub-genres” after this. (Military Zombie Fantasy anyone?)
As usual, while all Myke’s novels really are genre-defying stuff – filled with exciting, original and absolutely dazzling material that speaks to his enormous talents – Gemini Cell could well be the shining sparkly gem on that tiara. He is improving with every other novel and in this, he really outshines himself with the writing. A taut thrilling plot-line that involves a “dead” US Navy SEAL brought back into commission through sorcery – who still retains his “humanity” and thus is an enigma to the recruiters, The Gemini Cell. Hell breaks loose as Jim realizes the truth about his “dead” wife and kid and that he’s been pretty much fed lies by the authority to be used to their own sordid needs.
The summary really doesn’t do justice to the character of Jim Schwietzer. Suffice to say that of all the protagonists that Myke has etched up in his previous trilogy, this guy is easily the best. A consummate professional (US SEAL, almost an artist with the gun!!), Jim struggles to comprehend his “unlife” after he is brought back from the dead by the Gemini Cell; Made to co-inhabit his own body with a dead “Jinn”, his confusions and wavering loyalty is beautifully drawn up. Myke punctuates his non-stop cinematic action sequences with generous doses of humor – especially the banter between Jim and his Jinn at times is absolutely hilarious. But beneath all that kinetic, blistering action thriller storyline lies a heart. The romance between Jim and his wife Sarah that is a strong underpinning to the entire plot and actually is the key element that pistons the story forward to a fabulous climax. It’s a self-contained story and yet Myke leaves things wide open for more stories to filter through in this setting.
There is obviously a much stronger nod towards magic in this book – Jinns and sorcerers – their ability to “summon” spirits from the great void of souls, the ‘Undead’ soldiers of combat and themes of after-life. Myke paints all this effortlessly making the whole premise pretty rich and intriguing. Jim Schweitzer is a fully realized character with an absorbing backstory – haunted in his after-life by his “inability” to have protected and saved his wife and son. The pain and the vulnerability of this “fierce warrior” is nicely drawn up. And so with Sarah as well – a “wolf”-mother who would go to any lengths to protect her son.
The pacing is crisp and well balanced – starting out strong in the beginning where we are introduced to Jim “the artist with a carbine” – a man who loves his job as a US SEAL dearly – right in the middle of this covert mission that goes a little awry. From here on, the story spins on crazily forward moving in short bursts of speed – pausing only to further etch out Jim’s or Sarah’s characters. Action is a staple in any Myke Cole novel and he doesn’t disappoint this time either.
But as I said before, come for the frenetic bursts of some highly charged explosive -“US Navy SEAL” -style action but stay mesmerized by the rich vein of human drama that unfolds. Even with a zombie for a “protagonist”! Trust me, this is Myke’s most ambitious project yet that fully catapults him into the top league of fantasy writers. He is building that unbeatable legacy in a new sub-genre called “Military Urban Fantasy” and this book pretty much clinches it for him. Go Myke!!