Adam gave up everything for a new chance at life. Now with a cutting-edge digital mind, he is smarter, faster, better than a normal teen. Except Adam is anything but invincible. He’s indebted to the government program that gave him this ability—and freedom comes at a price.
Adam and his teammates, the six Pioneers, swore to defend humanity against Sigma, the most ruthless artificial intelligence program ever designed. The Pioneers are all that stand between the AI and world domination. But Sigma has an advantage. It has learned about human weakness, and its new weapon? Betrayal.
In this war between good and evil, the battle lines have been drawn…but someone is about to switch sides.
The Six was a pretty good book, with interesting yet plausible level of science fiction, some intelligent inventions, a good plot but a boring villain. However, here I would like to amend that statement – Sigma rises to the occasion in this book. Initially created in cage match of competing AI, Sigma had conquered to be the top dog, and after recuperating from its arrogance in Six, it now is fixated on evolving itself, hoping to glean useful additions from the human-machine hybrids, particularly Adam who is like a sibling. As the blurb states, the plot this time around focuses on betrayal, and the mystery of whom among the Pioneers would do the unthinkable makes this an book you can’t stop reading.
While the earlier issues of the Pioneers still remain – the fact that they are not considered even remotely human, people always reacting badly to them, them questioning their existence, the very fact that they are just sophisticated weapons – and they are more or less coping with most of them, there are still chinks in their neuromorphic armor, insecurities which make for prime red herring business. I must admit, I was convinced it was Shannon for a major part of the plot. The addition of a new member to replace Jenny had also raised some warning bells, but she gets her useful part towards the end of the book. Overall, I felt the characters were not as much the focus of the book as the former, considering there is a greater degree of relationships that could have been explored here. And I did feel the writing was subpar, compared to the previous.
Moving on to the science part of the book, the robotics, nanotech and engineering explained are, in a word, awesome. But more importantly, I loved the point of evolution being brought up and how it connects to intelligence. As a biologist, I am of the opinion that evolution doesn’t always mean the a higher level of organism – rather an increase in complexity that helps it sustain/adapt in its environment, and this point was driven nicely by the ending. And speaking of the ending, what a way to wrap up stuff but also leave a cliffhanger! It was almost brutal realizing that the story hasn’t really ended, but also exhilarating to know there is the possibility of another book. In summary, a deserving sequel that upholds the power of the former.
Received a free galley from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.