Christmas doesn’t go as planned for Monk and Gray. As they head back to Grey’s home they find those that mean the most to them are severely injured or kidnapped. Now time is ticking down as they hunt for those who took them while also battling a new threat, AI. Eve, a computer program, is wreaking havoc on the world and there is only one young woman who can stop her, but will it be in time before destruction takes it toll?
This story focused on AI and it was fascinating. I have always been intrigued by the idea of AI. It is one of those things that is great because of what it can do to help the world but it also one of those things that is terrifying because of how out of control it can get.
This story explored the darker side of AI. We see that in the wrong hands so much destruction can happen. Lives can be lost. I thought it was very clever the way the book talked about the two forms of Eve, the AI. There is the benevolent side and the darker side.
It was great because it looked at how to train her. You realize that what works on humans works with this program as well. Pain was used as a training mechanism and you see what that kind of torture does, close to what it does to a real human. It is a bit scary how close to real humans it seemed.
I also liked the focus on Monk and his family in this book. Monk has been the focus before but here you get to see a softer side of him. I also like that he knew Kat well enough to make decisions she would want. He doesn’t coddle her. He does procedures that helped them even if it hurt her because he knew that was what she would want. Even in a coma he didn’t treat her as fragile and breakable. He kept her strong and I loved seeing that side of their relationship.
I though this book as going to center on the storyline of finding Seichan and the girls. I thought that this was all going to play into one another but it really didn’t. It felt like two separate storylines.
I understood that this was more a set up for a future conflict between Valya and the Sigma Force group. It was just mentioned a few times though. I had trouble understanding what Valya’s issue was. She wanted the technology but I had no idea why. I didn’t get what her end game was.
She mentioned that she wanted the girls to raise as her own. Is she trying to set up a new group? What does she want in the end other than the end of Sigma? I wished we had gotten more from them and a better idea of where that story is going
This could have set up a good amount of time to build up Seichan’s character. We see that she is afraid of being a mom and feels like she can’t manage it. I thought we would see her find a way through helping the girls but we barely touch on it.
The idea is there but it isn’t explained well. There is no focus on how she is developing. I wanted to see her try to realize she can be a fighter and a mother. I wanted her to come to that realization on her own instead we got a quick thought from Grey at the end and that was it. I felt like we lost out on some great character development.
I gave this book 3 stars because while I enjoyed the storyline I wanted more from Siechan’s character.
I’ve stated in previous reviews how my favorite type of characters are the ones who start out as the “villain,” and then have a transformation. I love the process of someone realizing their previous ways are hurtful and detrimental to the world and themselves. The process of fighting past a curtain of darkness to find the light on the other side is fascinating to me. Regina and Hook in “Once Upon a Time”, Jamie in “Game of Thrones” and, to a lesser extant, Daryl in “Walking Dead” are all characters who have had this type of transformation. Watching someone step back, and reevaluate themselves and their choices is always an interesting character arc to me.
James Rollins’s Sigma Force series is a fast paced action adventure series. It is a fun ride, that throws twists and turns at you with every flip of the page. All the characters are likable and have some fantastic qualities to them. Grey, Painter and Monk are all strong male characters who fight to maintain a fast paced life along with a family oriented one as well. The series is great because it also has some strong and great female characters. Lisa and Kat are two women who stand toe to toe with the men and many times come out on top. They can handle themselves. They stay in the thick of the action all the time, never settling for staying in the background and watching what happens. They aren’t just two operative though, Kat is a fierce and loving mother and Lisa loves and adores Painter.
My favorite of all the characters in the series is Seichan. Seichan is that character that started off as someone we did not trust or like. She worked for the shady Guild which was behind all the issues the team was dealing with. We never knew if she out for herself or was telling the truth.
I did not start this series from the very beginning. I started at “Judas Strain”, (I will go back one day to read the few that I missed) so I did not see Grey and Seichan’s first meeting. But I have learned from the summary of the other books that their first meeting was not a good one. Seichan actually shot Grey. This established her at first as someone we are supposed to be seen as a ruthless killer.
Seichan was part of The Guild. An organization that is full of secrecy. This organization cares about nothing but their own self preservation. They do not care about others lives. Seichan was raised inside this group so it is no wonder that she grew up to be cold, calculating and manipulative.
Seichan had a miserable childhood, one with little love or care. She never knew her father, always believing he was someone who just up and left her and her mother. Her mother was dragged away by force, leaving Seichan alone. She was adopted by this organization where she quickly learned that emotions were a weakness. Weakness was not tolerated and would never be a way to survive. That is how she saw the world for so long.
Then fate steps in and Seichan meets Grey and her world begins to change. In Judas Strain she goes to Grey for help. She shows up on the run and injured. He could have thrown her out but instead he helped her. Throughout that story she witnessed something else she had not seen for ages, pure love. She saw his concern for his parents and I believe it started to put a crack in her tough exterior.
Seichan really works hard for a time to deny the feelings she is starting to feel for Grey. She sees how much he cares about his parents and about his friends. She wants that. She wants to care again. She wants something beyond the world she knows. She leaves The Guild because she can’t work for their ruthless evil ways anymore. Even though she was raised to be a killer and has done some horrible things there is still a part of her that regrets those actions. Seichan is not a psychopath. She sees a different way of life and she wants that for herself.
She is scared though. It was drilled into her that weakness will get you killed. To survive you have to destroy those who oppose you. You have to fight everyone to stay on top. She believes herself nothing but a cold hearted killer. She doesn’t even know if she has the ability to care and love left inside of her anymore. But there is this spark that will not die.
In “Bloodline” she learns about her mother and that spark becomes a flame. She can still care. She can still love. Everything she knew has been turned upside down. She finds herself feeling lost and scared; emotions that she is not familiar with. She tries to do it all on her own but she quickly realizes she needs someone to lean on, and that person is Grey. She can’t do this all alone. She can’t fight all she has known without an outside hand to help her.
Rollins doesn’t have her falling in Grey’s arms right away though. This process of opening herself up to the good sides of herself is going to be a longer one. I love that it isn’t a snap of a finger deal. This seems much more realistic to me and when it all does come together it will be a stronger relationship. One that will keep Seichan on the right side. This evolution will be interesting to watch.
I have read a few of James Rollin’s Sigma series books before. I picked them up because I have always enjoyed historical adventure type of stories. I like the idea of there being more to history than the basic stories we have always been told. Mix that idea in with an adventure and you have an entertaining story.
While I have read a few of Rollin’s stories before I did not read any of them in order. For me I tend to read these type of stories out of order; thinking the story is more about whatever the main characters are seeking and trying to preserve or destroy. That was until I read “Judas Strain,” this last month. I had been in a spell of reading fantasy and was in the mood for something a bit different for a bit. I went to my bookshelf and picked up “Judas Strain,” and was pulled in like I usually am to these novels.
“Judas Strain,” is about the Sigma force trying to find the source of, and combat a new bacteria that is causing people to get sick on Christmas Island. What they find out is that the outbreak is much more dangerous then previously thought, and that its origins go all the way back to Marco Polo. They are in a race against time to save the population of the world from a pandemic while also fighting an enemy they have encountered before.
I enjoyed the story by itself. The pace was fast and kept you turning pages. Someone was always in danger and there was always a feel that not everyone was being completely truthful. You doubted loyalties and wondered if everyone was going to make it out of the predicament alive.
The outbreak was an intriguing concept as well. It was a different way of looking at a common idea. It makes you wonder what would happen if your own body fought against you.
What I liked most about reading “Judas Strain,” was realizing how much better this series is if you read them in order. Like I stated before I usually read them out of order, not really concentrating on the characters, but more of the mystery and the historical aspect. “Judas Strain,” made me care a lot about the characters of Grey, Painter, Monk and Lisa. I realized how connected these books are and I was eager to read the next book in the series, “The Last Oracle.” I wanted to see how the characters were coping after this encounter and what was going to happen next with some of the loose ends.
It is said that you always see something you miss in a second reading and for me that is very true with this book series. I now want to read them in order so that I get even more involved with the stories. Now I am not only intrigued by the story line or the history mystery but I also deeply care about the characters as well. Rollins heightens the suspense by bringing these characters alive more and more with each story. I am excited to continue reading the series. If you like historical adventure novels you will enjoy Rollin’s stories. You get a fun adventure with characters you actually care about more and more with each book.