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This is one of the weirdest books I have read all year. No background is provided for the current situation and we are asked to take for granted that the organization that works out of the regional office helps to stop forces of interdimensional darkness from harming the Earth. I chose to read it kind of like X-Men except instead of Professor X we have Oyemi, instead of Cerebro we have Oracles in their kiddie pools of blue goo, and instead of mutants we have girls, LOTS of girls with different kinds of powers that aren’t really explained either, just that the Oracles tell Oyemi and her sidekick Mr. Niles where to find them and they “recruit” them into service. The girl soldiers travel across time and space and dimensions, all as directed by the regional office.
Focus is given to two girls in particular: Rose and Sarah. Rose is recruited by the attackers and Sarah is recruited by the regional office directly, specifically Mr. Niles. Rose is trained with a group of women tasked with overtaking the office, and Sarah acts as Mr. Niles’ right hand woman. He offers Sarah the chance to get revenge on the people who abducted her mother years ago, and to help her with that he gives her intelligence, resources, and a nanotech mechanical arm. Constant references to multiple popular movies and superheroes help guide us through both perspectives of this attack.
Interwoven with the actual action, there is a research paper type narrative which brings together evidence and conjecture to theorize why this attack happened and how the office fell. This paper presents us with the historical information in a scattered fashion to help support the forward motion of the rest of the book. I’m not sure who would be writing such a paper or why, but it serves its purpose.
If you don’t look too deeply or demand to know too many details, this is a fun, action-packed book. You’ve come in just as the battle is beginning! It’s like finding The Avengers or Pacific Rim on a TV station and deciding to watch even though they are on the final battle and you’ve never seen the movie before. It’s exciting even if you don’t know how they got to where they are.
If you do look deeply, you’ll notice that despite the overwhelming feminine power theme, men control much of the action. The female superheroes are sent on their missions by Mr. Niles, and a man named Henry was found by the oracles as a way to enhance their recruitment techniques; Henry can convince these girls to do anything! Also the focus on just Rose and Sarah doesn’t seem to have a purpose. Without deep back stories we could have heard from many more of the agents: Emma, Jasmine, any of them. Why the story had to go between only Rose and Sarah escaped me, and without details on the rest of the team on either side it was difficult to invest emotional energy in the story. Most stories can be divided into plot-driven and character-driven, but this book seems to be something completely different.
Despite this, Manuel Gonzales gives us a fun, fast, exciting battle where we see just what people are capable of. I recommend this book if you have time to just blast through it. It’s a good time.
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