The first two installments of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series were fresh and unlike anything else I had ever read. Both Control Point and Fortress Frontier were fun, intelligent, action-packed, and entertaining reads with a generous dose of ass-kicking! So with two quality yarns under his belt, the only question remaining was whether or not the author could close the show with style.
Once again, the answer is a resounding yes! In Breach Zone, Cole seems more mature as a writer and in better control of his craft. Building upon storylines from the first two volumes, Cole brings everything together in one exciting finale which caps off this series in a very satisfying fashion.
Here's the blurb:
The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it. In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known. In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind. When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil .
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Having served in the military allows Cole to imbue the Shadow Ops books with a credibility regarding the realism of the use of magic in military operations and its ramifications up and down the chain of command. I feel that it gives this series its unique "flavor" and remains what sets it apart from everything else on the market. And contrary to what was necessary in the first two installments, there is no need for any kind of set-up in Breach Zone and we are immediately plunged into the action from the very beginning.
The fact that Fortress Frontier occurred in the Source for the most part provided answers to many of the questions raised in Control Point, which added more depth to the majority of the existing plotlines. With Breach Zone, most of the action takes place in New York City, as the hard-pressed Supernatural Operations Corps attempt to contain Scylla's invasion. Hence, this book features more battle sequences than its predecessors. There is an entire action sequence early on in the novel that could be considered Coast Guard porn, but that's just Myke Cole showing off a little! One of the most interesting facets of Breach Zone, and definitely the most eagerly anticipated, was the revelations contained in Scylla's backstory. Somehow, it ties most of the storylines from all three volumes together and raises the stakes to a new level, especially the revelations regarding the limbic dampener.
Harlequin's POV offers a new perspective and I enjoyed seeing the crisis unfold through his eyes. The fact that he is also part of Scylla's backstory was surprising and quite interesting. It was a pleasure to find out that Alan Bookbinder, the unlikely hero from Fortress Frontier, was also back as a POV character. Based on their heroic actions at the end of the second installment, though it went against orders the government had no choice but to promote the two men. But both Harlequin and Bookbinder were quickly "put out to pasture." Little did they know that they would soon find themselves in the middle of the most important armed conflict in US history. In the last book, I liked how the author brought politics into the fray and I felt that it would undoubtedly have repercussions in this final volume. Indeed, it does, as international support is hard to come by due to the USA's secret activities in the Source.
The pace is crisp and Breach Zone is a real page-turner. The absence of set-up makes for a fast-moving rhythm and there isn't a dull moment from start to finish. Considering the length of the build-up, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. It takes about 300 pages for Cole to set all of his pieces upon the board, for Harlequin and Bookbinder to try to gain the support of a number of factions whose help they desperately need, and to complete Scylla's backstory. And yet, only 30-something pages to close the show. It doesn't take anything away from the overall reading experience, mind you. But it did feel a bit incongruous.
All in all, Breach Zone is an exciting conclusion to what has been a superior series. Hands down, one of the best SFF book sequences of the last few years! Do yourself a favor and give Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series a shot!