Saturday, August 20, 2016

ARC REVIEW: Necrotech by K. C. Alexander

Star Rating: ***** 5/5



Title: Necrotech
Author: K. C. Alexander
Genre: Sci-Fi
Subgenre: Cyberpunk/Transhumanist sci-fi
Review by Silicon.
Street thug Riko has some serious issues — memories wiped, reputation tanked, girlfriend turned into a tech-fueled zombie. And the only people who can help are the mercenaries who think she screwed them over.

In an apathetic society devoid of ethics or regulation, where fusing tech and flesh can mean a killing edge or a killer conversion, a massive conspiracy is unfolding that will alter the course of the human condition forever. With corporate meatheads on her ass and a necro-tech blight between her and salvation, Riko is going to have to fight meaner, work smarter, and push harder than she’s ever had to. And that’s just to make it through the day.

Intro 


HOLY. SHIT. 

To say I enjoyed this book would be a massive understatement. 

Do you like ass-kicking, foul-mouthed, shit-starting heroines? Fast-paced plots that just don't stop the punches? Human & tech integration with ACTUAL CONSEQUENCES and unique dangers?

Publication date is September 1st for ebook & UK, September 6th for North America.

This is an honest review in exchange for an ARC. Yes, I really did like it THIS MUCH.

 

Plot & Writing Style

 

The plot of Necrotech is one wild ride.

The major conflict in the story centers around Riko's girlfriend, who is turned into a "tech zombie" (necrotech) following events that implicate Riko herself, and which she cannot remember. Complicating the issue is her girlfriend's brother, who Riko must work with if she's to figure out what happened. The complicated, messy relationships between characters in this book is a real strength of the storytelling. I really liked how Riko is clearly a person who loves & is attracted to many people, and how HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS is a central theme & conflict for everyone. Deciding who to trust, who to betray, who to save makes up a big part of how everyone interacts.

Shit just keeps hitting the fan. Everything Riko does to try and fix the situation has consequences, positive and negative. The world of the story is tightly integrated, and Alexander does a great job giving us essential information through action sequences and really keeping tension up the whole time. This is a first person POV book, so when Riko doesn't know something we don't either. It's tough to make this work with an amnesia-driven central conflict, but I think it was well done. Amnesia isn't my favorite plot device, but for this story it worked. 

If you see this XKCD and think "I'd like to read that!" You will enjoy Necrotech. This is one of the fastest-paced books I've read, which packs punches both physical and emotional.

 

Setting

 

Humanity has become concentrated in cosmopolitan mega-cities due to massive environmental degradation (whee, it's the future!), and depends on nanotechnology to survive.

The way tech and humanity is integrated in this novel is really unique. I liked the way that tech upgrades came with a significant danger and cost--the possibility of being overwhelmed by your tech's needs and becoming a mere vessel for it to operate. Very creepy. I think the way that tech and environment meshed was well thought out and has interesting implications--for example, nanotech removes the possibility of cancer, so people pulse themselves with straight radiation to disinfect the extremely dubious water coming out of their showers. People can connect and talk to one another through tech-based psionics wired into their brains, but this comes at the cost of also being constantly assaulted with visual and aural advertisements.

It's a very dystopian, post-climate-crisis environment and a very interesting use of universal nanotechnology.

 

Characters

 

Yessssss Riko. She's the best.

Riko beats people up, she swears loudly and frequently, she screws up and pulls herself to her feet again, she asks for help when she needs it and powers through when she doesn't. She's a FORCE. She's the kind of heroine I've wanted to read for a long time but rarely actually GET. Usually when you have protags like this, they end up needing A MAN to come save them somehow. Riko is self-sufficient and would probably significantly fuck you up if you suggested that. She needs help, but she doesn't need to be saved.

I really enjoyed how flawed and human K. C. Alexander writes Riko. She's not an emotionless machine. She cares for people and for her reputation. When she screws up and hurts someone else, she feels guilt and regret. Sometimes she screws up BECAUSE she feels so guilty it makes her rash and punch something she shouldn't. Riko has fears and joys that are just so centrally REAL that she really comes alive off the page. Plus I deeply enjoyed watching her beat her enemies up. I would not want to get in this woman's way. She's not the most conniving or intelligent character on the page, and THAT'S OKAY. That's better than okay, actually, it shows how she has significant challenges to face that she genuinely needs others for.

There's a great variety in characters presented in this book, who are all very different, yet need each other to survive and solve problems.

 

Diversity

 

Riko has had a long and sometimes complicated love life, and is bisexual. LGBT+ rep is casual and inclusive in this novel, and I really appreciated that. We frequently see Riko make passes at both men and women throughout the story, and there's absolutely no fanfare or big deal made out of who she's attracted to by any other character.

Riko is an amputee who uses a prosthetic metal forearm and hand. In a lot of SFF, loss of a limb is often swiftly compensated by something that functions the same, if not better. However, while Riko's arm definitely is advanced tech, it's not the same as if she'd never lost the arm. It feeds data back to Riko in a series of statistics about whatever it's touching, and she must interpret them rather than feeling as she does with her other hand. It has drawbacks and strengths that play uniquely into how Riko navigates the world. I felt this was excellently done.

Genetics is messy in the world of Necrotech. People can take pills containing  genetic material from other human ethnic groups which augment their abilities and change their physical appearance.While this makes it complicated to evaluate racial diversity in the book, I was very happy with the many characters of color we got to see, and who play important roles. This is definitely not one of those "the future is white"-type scifi books. I was happy with the diversity in this book.

 

Conclusion

 

You need this damn book. There's a longish excerpt posted here by B&N if you want to see for yourself. If you don't like swearing you won't like this book, but you'd also probably not be reading my blog. SO. 

READ THIS BOOK.


1 comment:

  1. You had me at "she swears loudly and frequently"! :D But yesss this sound so awesome: kick-as heroine, bisexuality, swearing, nanotech! I missed it on NetGalley but I'm sure the author will appreciate selling a copy he, so putting this on my weekend tbr, it sounds like a book I'll not want to be interrupted reading!

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