Friday, April 1, 2016

James Review -- Windswept

This week I decided to review Windswept by Adam Rakunas.  
The story begins with Padma Mehta, the story’s protagonist, struggling to find contract breachers. In the setting, human space is ruled by mega-corporations and Padma work for Union as a recruiter. She is thirty-three recruits short of her quota, which would allow her to retire and purchase the distillery which makes her favorite rum, when an unreliable contact approaches her claiming that a colony ship due to pass through the solar system she lives in has forty people planning to flee their contracts. At first, she ignores the offer, believing it to be too good to be true, but after a convoy, from which she had planned to recruit more than two dozen breachers, is lost with all hands, she accepts.
But things rapidly go wrong. First there are only a handful of breachers instead of forty, and she is forced into a race to evade both corporate forces and agents of Saarien, a rival Union recruiter infamous for snatching recruits from his colleagues. And then, while Padma is helping her breachers adjust to their new lives, Saarien is found dead with all evidence pointing to Padma. And while trying to prove her innocence, she stumbles upon a plot to unleash a genetically engineered virus that will wipe out the vast majority of sugarcane in the universe. And in this universe, sugarcane is used for everything from reactor and starship fuel to creating building materials, so this plot could bring an apocalypse to human civilization if not stopped. But there are also corporate commandos seeking to destroy the plague, and among them is an enemy from Padma’s days serving the megacorps who wants revenge, and Padma is struggling with mental side effects from a corporate experimental procedure throughout the story.
I give the book 7.5 out of 10. Most of the characters were interesting and had good backstories, plus the action scenes were well-written. However, I wish we had gotten some more details on the bigger picture of the setting. Also, some of the events that take place felt a little too convenient for purposes of moving characters in the directions the plot needed them to go. Finally, I find the variety of uses for sugarcane in this setting to be stretching credibility, even though I understand why the story needed one plant to be the key to human technology and civilization. Still, overall it was a good story for an author’s first novel and I’m curious where he will go from here.

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