Thursday, 2 June 2011

'Amortals' - Matt Forbeck

I wanted to read another book by Matt Forbeck as I was quite critical of his book, Vegas Knights, and Amortals seemed like a good choice. I quite liked the blurb for this book which promised a science fiction thriller where we follow Secret Service agent Ronan "Metusaleh" Dooley on his hunt to catch his killer.

That's right, Ronan Dooley is hunting his own killer. Science has made a breakthrough in cloning where it is possible to clone a person and quuckly grow the body to maturity. Anyone with enough money can now "backup" their mind and if the worst happen, or they get old, they can be re-born into a new body without loosing too much of their memories. Ronan Dooley is by now almost 200 years old and was actually the first 'amortal' to be created after he was mortally wounded saving the life of a president. The CIA took a great risk performing the experiment on Ronan Dooley, but correctly judged the attitude of the public that they would not deny someone who died so heroically the chance to live again.

If you think this story sounds familiar, it's probably because you have read Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon which is an excellent science fiction thriller, featuring ex Envoy Takeshi Kovacs.  Any book that reminds me of Altered Carbon is a good thing and the two books don't have that much in common apart from cloning and mind back-ups. In Amortals for instance, there are no cybernetic implants to boost speed and strength. Matt Forbeck has instead opted for a virtual layer which is actually something we see being experimented with out in the real world. Ronan Dooley and the other 'amortals' have a nano server installed in his brain which connects him to the net and gives him the ability to access 'layers'. Each layer has a specific function, we have the identity layer which tries to identify anyone that Ronan Dooley can see and a trivia layer which gives trivia about things he can see and so on. Quite cool and hopefully something our mobile phones can do soon.

The story starts with Ronan Dooley having just been installed in a new body and is watching a recording of his own murder. It's a brutal murder where Ronan watches himself being first shot in the head and then being peppered with bullets until he cannot recognise himself.. The killer is quite clear that he thinks that 'amortals' are an abomination and that the practice has to be put a stop to.

After,  Ronan Dooley goes back to his office where he finds a smoking hot babe lounging in his chair. She tells him that she is his new partner. He is of course more the lone gun kind of guy and he wants to know which idiot assigned him a partner. He soon finds out he assigned her himself in case of his death. I like it when the protagonist plays hard to get when it comes to working relationships.

The only suspect in his murder are the Kalis, a crime organisation with Indian roots. The Kalis have their fingers in every pie, but have never tried going after a Secret Service agent before, which is worrying him.

I liked Amortals, the characters are a lot more interesting than in Vegas Knights which I made clear in my review. The story is told from Ronan Dooley's point of view and Matt Forbeck has managed to make him likeable which is what went wrong in Vegas Knights. In spite of having lived for 200 years Ronan Dooley still takes his job very seriously and definitely knows right from wrong and stands up for those that need protection. The world building is OK, but does not stand out. It has some interesting things like the virtual reality layers which are pretty cool, but I disagree with the consequences of Amortality. The avarage life span in the US has now dropped to roughly 40 years as all medical research has stopped. There is simply no financial interest in it as rich people are all amortal. I'm obviously no expert but there should still be money to be made from everyone else. The plot moves along well and have enough twists to keep you turning the pages. Anyway, Amortals is a entertaining read and if you are looking for some fun action you should read it.

Amortals weighs in at 416 pages and is published by Angry Robot

Verdict: read

No comments:

Post a Comment