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Codename: Winterborn Paperback – February 28, 2013
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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From the Author
Codname: Winterborn is where science fiction espionage collides with philosophy and politics. Swearing revenge might make you feel better, but what happens when the politicians are the one you need to kill? When does vengeance stop being a personal vendetta, and becomes a duty? Can you kill people who need to die, saving those who will come after you, even though you know that your life is over? In the case of Kevin Anderson, he knows what he has to do, and he has the will -- but does he have the ability? He doesn't know, but he's about to find out.
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Now, for the characters. The protagonist somehow manages to stay sympathetic and very human throughout, even though he spends most of the book being at least marginally insane. Secondary characters are nicely layered, interacting with the protagonist in sometimes unpredictable, always interesting ways, and leaving the reader wanting to know more about them. The ending gives just enough closure to not be a shameless "hurry up and buy my next book" cliff hanger, but definitely leaves a room for a sequel, currently in the works.
Recommended to political/military thriller fans as well as those who enjoy vigilante justice stories.
The prologue is a description of world nuclear war, deemed “The April Fool’s War.” This debacle touches off because human beings are being used by their government as lab rats without their knowledge. The prologue, from the POV of future mercenary/assassin Kyle Elsen, describes current “civilized” Western governments in a nutshell. The elites, thinking they are gods, want to “observe reactions.” They never seem to learn that each human being is unique, and will react with regard to their own hopes, dreams and thoughts of the safety and well being of loved ones. After a third of the planet is rendered uninhabitable, “none of the nations involved were willing to take responsibility for any of the destruction. They all pointed fingers at each other and claimed they had been left no choice after the first launch.” Sound familiar?
The main body of Winterborn is the sobering tale of Lt. Kevin Anderson, a former US Navy SEAL and current spy. Chapter one opens in the “Islamic Republic Of France” (again, is this the future, or the present?) with the betrayal of Anderson and his team by certain elite politicians in the U.S. Senate. What follows is an interval of revenge, the reading of which is, as they say, “sweet.”
The latter part of the book deals with Anderson’s exile and survival in a certain city on the West coast of the future United States. Anderson remains conflicted and dark throughout, at once an instrument of revenge and justice. At times his actions appear arbitrary. However, for the majority of the novel, Anderson seems to do the moral thing each time he finds himself between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Finally, as a Roman Catholic, the descriptions of churches broke my heart. Will true followers of Christ be forced to hide? Will our churches become tourist attractions the way the Roman Coliseum is today? If things continue on their present course, the answer is obvious.
Is this the future or the present?
The hero is one helluva fighter/shooter. He grows to seem real as his story progresses.
The characters are believable and entertaining; the writing is literate; the plot-line is good; the motives are believable.
The book is long enough that things develop well, without having to use too much "And then, after blowing up the fort and taking the town, we...", as so many authors do.
I do have some gripes with the nuclear weapons scenario of it - repeatedly, we get told that "Everything west of Texas is a burnt-out nuclear wasteland". BUT somehow, due to the mystical magical "air currents over San Francisco Bay", SF & Oakland (and a few suburbs) miraculously survive un-irradiated and un-blown-up. Sigh... Couldn't happen that way, but whatthehell, it makes for a good story, so I'll let 'em slide.
The Islamic Republic of France is quite believable - in real life, that seems to be the onrushing fate of all Europe now.
Well, I don't want to go into any more detail. I do recommend the book - it makes for an entertaining read.
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