Hard to imagine that The Burning Skies could be even more action-packed than its predecessor, The Mirrored Heavens (Canada, USA, Europe), but somehow David J. Williams found a way to raise the bar even higher. This sequel is a veritable train wreck, and you never know what's going to hit you next. I loved it!
The events chronicled in The Mirrored Heavens left Claire Haskell's life in shambles. The man she loved is dead. The all-important mission she was a part of was betrayed. She discovered that her past was a lie, leaving her to contemplate a future built on memories that could well be false. And yet, the razor has no time to wallow in self-pity, for the terrorist group known as Autumn Rain is on the move again. Barely four days have passed since Claire managed to placate them, but the elusive Autumn Rain strikes again. Not only are they trying to undermine or destroy the fragile global alliances in order to shatter the relatively recent peace between the superpowers -- Autumn Rain's main objective is to rule all of mankind. The first stage of their plan calls for the assassination of the US president and the take-over of the American computer networks known as the zone. Claire Haskell must find a way to hack enemy networks and outwit them so that another World War is averted. As battle erupts all over the Earth-Moon system, Claire realizes that betrayal awaits her at every turn. And Autumn Rain appears to always be a step ahead of her. . .
The Burning Skies is yet another page-turner. The action is non-stop, and the plot is filled with enough unexpected twists and turns that it will make your head spin.
The story progresses at a breakneck pace. David J. Williams sucks you into this one right from the start, and the rhythm is such that you'll get through this novel before you know it. If The Mirrored Heavens suffered from any shortcoming, it likely was lack of depth. Not so in this sequel, however. The author demonstrates that the first volume offered us just a glimpse of the overall story arc. Revelations about the origins of Autumn Rain, the American hierarchy and structure, the Eurasian Coalition, and more, imbue this one with much more depth.
Moreover, character development add layers to many of the characters. Though this remains more or less Claire's story, the book features the POVs of several additional characters, which allows the reader to follow the action through various perspectives. Characters such as Linehan, Spencer, and Sarmax become more fully realized, while others like Carson and Lynx remain enigmatic.
As was the case with its predecessor, The Burning Skies is divided into four parts. Again, there are no chapters. The narrative jumps from one POV to another in rapid succession, with each POV portion rarely exceeding five pages. Flipping from one quick scene to the next makes this novel extremely hard to put down.
To say that The Burning Skies is a convoluted tale would be a gross understatement. Plot twists and surprises abound, and the author keeps pulling the rug from under our feet when we least expect it. This one will keep you guessing throughout.
My only complaint would have to be that the book ends with a major cliffhanger. Then again, basically every single section of this novel ends with a cliffhanger, so it hardly came as a surprise. Still, a bit more closure would have made for a better ending. In any case, I'll be lining up to read the third installment as soon as it becomes available, so the cliffhanger ending did its job!
The Burning Skies is a great blend of military science fiction and cyberthriller that should appeal to fans of Richard Morgan.
The final verdict: 8/10