Saturday, January 6, 2018

James Review -- Mass Effect: Initiation

This week I decided to review Mass Effect: Initiation by N.K. Jemisin and Mac Walters. 

The story begins with Cora Harper returning to the Sol system after her tour of duty with the Asari commando unit Talein's Daughters. Her Asari commander recommended she join the Andromeda Initiative, and Harper moves to do so. She is soon assigned to work with Alec Ryder, humanity’s Pathfinder, a disgraced former soldier who was long at the forefront of humanity’s space efforts. and the creator of the Simulated Adaptive Matrixes, or SAMs, bonded to the Pathfinders.

At first Ryder is leery of Harper because she joined on advice of someone else rather then for her own reasons. But when a vital kernel of SAM programming is stolen, Harper is equipped with an experimental SAM-E implant and sent in pursuit. She recruits a mercenary unit led by Ygara Menoris, one of her colleagues from her time with Talein's Daughters, to help her raid the space station the kernel is traced to. But after the raid Menoris betrays Harper and steals the kernel for herself.

Harper escapes and pursues Menoris to Illuim, where Menoris plans to auction off the kernel. But by the time Harper and SAM-E catch up Menoris is dead and the kernel has been taken by her killer. The pair soon trace the killer to the Pamyat system. Harper, who visited the system aboard her parent’s freighter as a child, remembers it as a haven for numerous pirate bands. But when Harper and SAM-E arrive they find the pirate bands gone. Instead they find a Systems Alliance black ops research base.

Inside the base they find that most of the inhabitants have been slaughtered. Eventually they meet a group of survivors who explain that one of the base’s projects was to create a sentient AI that would willingly coexist with organic life, and the SAM code was stolen to aid this project. But another project was working on creating cybernetic supersoldiers and the base’s AI went rogue then used the supersoldiers to wipe out all the personnel it could find. With an Alliance cruiser en route to eradicate the base Harper and SAM-E find themselves in a race against time to lead the survivors to safety before its too late.

I give this book 9 out of 10. I like the story in general and enjoy many of the characters. However, I wish the book had gone into more detail on Harper’s past. Also, there is a part that adds an extra reason to why the player character is chosen over Harper to be the second Human Pathfinder during Mass Effect: Andromeda in addition to the reasons given in the game. Usually, I would applaud something like this but the explanation in the book doesn’t make sense to me, and isn’t explained in enough detail to stop it from raising new questions that are left unanswered.

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