ARvekt by Craig Lea Gordon – 5/5 Stars

ARvekt by Craig Lea Gordon - Front Cover
The main character, Tannis

From the first book in this series to this book, as soon as we’re introduced to new character Tannis, I wasn’t as interested since I felt she hadn’t been introduced properly, but it later became clear she was an action-first–personality-later type of character with a troubled past – and mental state – and that later made sense to me. The prose is a lot to take in – you feel like you’re plugged in – but it’s clear Tannis is a futuristic cop rooting out a group of criminal hackers who hack people’s brains, of all things. She works for some secret department and takes orders from an AI called Ix, a colour shifting entity whose voice changes gender but we remember her best as female.

There is more than meets the eye, as you could have guessed. Is reality real? Is Tannis psychotic or is she being fed lies? Is there really a conspiracy or is it in her head? Why does she keep blacking out? Why does she sense that what she’s seeing just doesn’t make sense? I liked these questions posed as they gave the story more depth, but what really gave it depth were the descriptions, making you feel you’re in a 3D world not dissimilar from the movie Alita or the series Ghost in the Shell.

‘Like a bright roll of silk thrown in the distance. Giant lily pads floated on its surface … thousands of them constantly ascending into the night sky.’

‘The last vestiges of the weapon platform jutting out of the top of the Thames, its rusting form a stark reminder of how close they came to losing that day.’

Ix, the AI

So, there is this AI called Ix that appears benevolent and all knowing at first, perhaps like that model of Alexa you have at home! Not too many chapters in we learn she’s demanding more powers. As soon as the reader knows of this, we suspect we’re up for a power grabbing experience or a conspiracy on a huge scale and the author makes no secret of this. Keep reading, I implore you! It was easy for me to assume how it was going to end …

Criticism

Sometimes I lost sight of where the character was in relation to other objects or situations. Sometimes all the action happened too quickly.

Overall

ARvekt wasn’t too convoluted or derivative as some works in this genre are. You read it having felt like it was unique in its own right, and it does twist the genre in different ways. It felt like a complex multi-coloured video game and to say the story had colour is no understatement: the scenes were vivid and I remember many of them now, a month after reading. ARvekt was a treasured experience and I recommend readers give it that go, which you won’t regret (unless you’re miserable?).

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