Wednesday, June 15, 2016

“Dead Shift” by Richard Phillips – The End of One Adventure; Only the Start of the Next

Dead Shift by Richard Phillips - book cover
The Rho Agenda Inception series, though intended as a prequel, basically became a whole adventure on its own with its set of unique questions and mysteries we're dying to have answers to. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and with Dead Shift, Richard Phillips concludes this series, and with a huge bang no less.

Just a quick disclaimer, though you probably could enjoy this book without having read the two previous ones, I find it doubtful. It is a continuous story, and without context many of the book's events lose meaning and impact. In any case, on with the show!

Following the events of the previous book, Jack and his team of commandos are called upon for what will perhaps be their most important and impactful mission yet. The NSA's most talented hacker and the whole world is pointing digital guns at each other, hot and ready for a worldwide cyberwar to begin. Needless to say, the team finds quite a few obstacles on their way to success, including the Chinese government, tech-billionaires, and a “superintelligent” being whose abilities might very well make him the most powerful being on the planet, far ahead of what anyone thought possible. Along the way, Jack keeps on fighting and struggling against the alien inside of him, trying to control it, learn what it is, what it wants, and of course, how to get rid of it.

As far as trilogy conclusions go, Dead Shift really cranks the intensity up to 11. Just like in the two previous novels, the action feels like it seldom takes a break, gripping you by the throat and often dragging the reader from one fight to the next through a global conspiracy. There is very little downtime, and when it does happen it's generally dedicated towards providing some interesting background information on the world or the characters. I do have to admit though that there are a few romance scenes that feel somewhat of out of place, and a few short segments that feel like they add nothing to the story. Nevertheless, these moments aren't common at all and certainly won't be what you'll remember from this novel . The writing is once again on the simpler side, with Phillips leaning more towards being concise rather than showering us with flowery descriptions.

The story itself feels a bit less outlandish than in previous titles, with the author staying more down-to-Earth, preferring to focus on a governmental type of conspiracy, with intrigues and plot elements that feel a bit more familiar. Of course, that is not to say the book is any less original than its predecessors, with Phillips really loving to save his twists for when they'll really turn your world upside down, and you can bet there are a few of them. He manages to strike the perfect balance between strange and plausible, something virtually every science-fiction author strives for.

Needless to say, with this being the end of this trilogy, we get answers to plenty of questions along the way to the anticipated climax, such as the sun staff's power, the story behind the alien in Jack's head, as well as how the events of this trilogy serve as the setup for the Rho Agenda series. The answers and reveals are about as satisfying as they can possibly be: original and full of logic.

With all things taken into consideration, Dead Shift is most certainly a worthy end to this trilogy, one that sets the bar high for the rest of the sci-fi community with its original engaging story, memorable characters and eye-catching action scenes. If you're a fan of the genre, do yourself a favour and don't miss out on one of the most exhilarating literary experiences of this year.


Richard Phillips (May 16, 1955)

Richard Phillips


Richard Phillips an American merchant mariner, and much more recently, an author, who famously served as the captain of the MV Maersk Alabama which was hijacked by Somali pirates back in 2009. He wrote a couple of books detailing his experiences overseas, titled A Captain's Duty and My Story, by the REAL Captain Phillips. His story was also turned into a silver screen adaptation where he was portrayed by Tom Hanks.

More of the Richard Phillips's book reviews:

The Rho Agenda Inception
Once Dead
Dead Wrong

The Rho Agenda
The Second Ship
Immune
Wormhole

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