I read a book. Actually, I’ve read a few lately, as I told myself that working and writing were no excuse for not reading as well.
Since Michael and I are on a strict budget, I’ve been going through the free offers and nabbing books there. If I don’t like it, I have the ultimate luxury of telling my kindle to ditch the file without guilt. I generally don’t leave a review in those cases. If I get to the end and didn’t rage, then I’ll leave an honest review.
But some books are awesome. Some books are epicness on a stick. I’ve read two of them lately, and I’m going to post reviews of them here, not only because they’re awesome books, but because they are really good at all the things which a book should be good at. These aren’t paid reviews; in fact the most the authors know about me is maybe my twitter handle.
Today’s book is called Encrypted by Carolyn McCray.
A code written in unbreakable Angelic script.
The resurgence of the Black Death.
Can an FBI Agent and the Robin Hood Hacker save the world from another Dark Ages?
McCray clearly did her research and some creative brainstorming, and she managed to hit a lot of basic plots which I love. Just a hint of Romance, cults trying to destroy the world, federal agents (I’m such a sucker for NCIS) and, my very favorite part, the plague. Ok, so I have a soft spot for pandemics. It’s creepy, I know.
This book reminded me of Michael Crichton at the start with the carefully detailed beginnings of the plague (and now you all know why I really loved it) and by the end it had also ushered in a Da Vinci Code plus humor kind of vibe. It really was thing after thing after thing. There was hardly a moment to breathe, which was a little frustrating since I read a lot of this book during my breaks at work and therefore had no choice but to put it down at times.
I loved the authority with which McCray wrote. She could have been dead wrong about the way New York City handled the plague, and I definitely had no idea one way or another. Either she did her research, thought it out really well, or simply wrote some great guesses. I know her research on the plague’s progression was right, so I’m guess it was the first option.
Now, her technological ideas were a little out there at times, but honestly, the whole book is so over the top in that area that I didn’t even notice. We go from GPS systems and finicky keyboardless gloves to a laser satellite, and I was right with her the whole time. Awesome points in the author’s favor.
I’ll be perfectly honest. I liked the two main characters. Ronnie and Zach were kick ass, awesomely written, funny, and super cool. I really did like them. They were perfect leads. But the sidekicks stole the show for me.
Quirk was the flamboyantly gay man constantly trying to keep track of Ronnie and her love life, getting her out of trouble as much as he possibly could while still managing to hit on the helicopter pilot and whipping up assorted technological goodies. Quirk was just great.
But weirdly, my two favorite characters were Amanda and Jennifer. This could be because by the end of the book, Amanda is the character who actually changes the most. Ronnie, Zach, Quirk, they all go back to who they were when the book started, albeit with slightly different goals (saving the world rather than stealing money, to be precise). But Amanda is clearly changed by her experience with the black plague. At the beginning of the epidemic, she doesn’t want to speak up about her theories – it takes Jennifer stomping on her foot and kicking her in the shin before she’ll bring up the similarities between the medival spread of the plague and the modern spread. By the end, she’s hog tying FBI agents and killing CDC moles with adrenaline. Huge difference.
Now, Jennifer was my favorite because she was different. You knew she was different for a long time, because despite the fact that she’s egging Amanda on, she doesn’t speak a word. It’s all by pokes, prods, kicks and so on. But it’s the last few chapters before you find out that she’s legitimately mute. Jennifer is also the hypochondriac Quirk’s CDC girl, and they communicate by text throughout the book. We know from the first chapter that Quirk is a hypochondriac, and we know that Jennifer texts on her cellphone sometimes, but it’s amazing how long McCay managed to keep the connection between the action heroes and the science heroes hush hush!
Finally, because the mark of a book is never its good guys, I’m just going to say that the Cult of the Hidden Hand was a pretty good bad guy, but I loved the figurehead, Lionel. He was the perfect balance of creepy, innocent, and ‘heaven help us, that kid is here’. Honestly, as I read him, I was reminded of Schrodinger from Hellsing – looking all innocent and naive, but secretly one of the worst villains in the book.
So yes, that’s my quick-like analysis of Encrypted. If you’re looking for a good book, go grab it from one of the links I gave.
Next time: a Review of Maggie For hire, by Kate Danley.