ARC Review: The Silence

The SilenceThe Silence by Mark Alpert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release date: July 4, 2017

Nothing is as it seems…

When Adam joined the Pioneer program, he became one of six teens to forfeit their bodies for a new, digital existence. Together, the Six were unstoppable, protecting the world from artificial-intelligence systems that threatened the human race. But they were more than a team—they were family. Until now.

Adam has a complex power within his circuitry that defies the very laws of physics. He wasn’t programmed to have this power, and he can barely control it or its consequences. Adam’s never felt more alone.

Amber, the newest Pioneer, knows what it is like to be an outsider. She gets him in a way the others don’t. Except Amber’s software has been corrupted, and until Adam figures out exactly what she’s become, the Pioneers—and the world—are in mortal danger.

The Silence, while technically the finale of the series, is more like a companion novel, or like an after-the-end sort of storyline. The Pioneers, who were created to defeat Sigma, the self-aware AI that was about to destroy the world, had completed their primary mission in the previous book. Now, their future lies ahead of them, and the possibilities are many. But having defeated the best AI in the world, they are the best now, which makes them a threat according the the very government that allowed their creation. But more than that, there is another insidious threat looming in the very fabric of their software, a secret that was unleashed much like Adam’s surges in the previous novel.

As I mentioned, this novel sets a distinct tone compared to the previous two books. It was about protection and war, but now it is about survival. There are two distinct arcs in the book – the status of the Pioneers in a post-Sigma world and the Silence. The Army is threatening to consign them to a lessened life – an existence akin to making them powerless toys. But being such powerful transhuman AIs (or human-machine hybrids if you want to get technical), they reject this life being thrust on them and want to fight for their right to live and be treated as any other human life. For many in the government, they are just tools to be disposed off when the job is done, whereas for the Pioneers it is like they are murdering them. It evokes civil rights issues and the purpose of a human existence.

The other arc, the Silence is the major one of the book, but it crops up somewhere close to the end of the first half. And with Jenny’s resurrection revealed as a cliffhanger in the last book, her motives for helping Adam seem shady. He doesn’t know until late that she had manipulated him and posed as Amber, but by then they have opened a can of worms that they need to work together to get rid of. The very fabric of their world was being altered by Adam’s surges and the implications of that are revealed in this book. The whole manipulation of matter and physical laws had seemed a bit out there in the last book, but with that explosive reveal, it suddenly becomes logical. Might I add, that reveal blew my mind – I had come across the theory in passing before and did not give it much thought but the way the book applied it to this plot was amazing. I could almost believe it possible, and yet, I feel like maybe in the grand scheme of things, in the living of life, it doesn’t matter if it is true or not, like the conclusion of the book makes a point about.

While I have liked this series immensely and feel the science aspect of it is solid and makes for excellent world-building, I feel this book still lacks the emotional weight of the first two. Perhaps it was because the whole Model S-arc was abandoned quickly in favor of the Silence arc and then easily resolved in the epilogue, but this book felt a lot more tell than show when it came to Adam. There were superfluous explanations and descriptions in some parts, which interfered especially with fast paced scenes. But overall, it is a good conclusion to the series, and is a good work of speculative fiction.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley.

Previous books in series

The Six (The Six #1) The Siege (The Six #2)

View all my reviews

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