Monday, 23 February 2015

Gemini Cell by Myke Cole (Ace/Headline)

I cover Gemini Cell, a prequel to the Shadow Ops trilogy by Myke Cole, currently available to buy through Headline Books in the UK and Ace in the US, and can be read whether or not the reader has prior knowledge of Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone. 

Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

It should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son… 

Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops trilogy was one of my favourites of the last few years and had an excellent finale that really worked. The combination of military and urban fantasy in a modern day setting and the exploration of a variety of interesting, compelling characters really worked and established Cole as an author to watch for sure. Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone were excellent novels and even though Gemini Cell may not feature the same characters and take place a few years before the main story, I was hooked from the get go once again, with Cole knocking it out of the park.

I’d like to kick off this review by bringing your attention to the cover. It looks awesome, doesn’t it? Myke Cole’s UK Covers have always been excellent but personally, for me, Gemini Cell is the strongest looking one yet and it just really gives that extra awesome feel to the book that screams “read me now”. So naturally, when I brought this book to read during the last week which I spent mostly in Spain, It didn’t take me long to get stuck in and once I did I couldn’t put it down. It’s just that good, and if you’ve enjoyed the previous novels, then you’ll certainly find that Gemini Cell will once more be something that you should really enjoy.

With the early days of the Great Reawakening used as a backdrop, Cole introduces us to US Navy Seal Jim Schweitzer. He’s a family man, and good at his job. Against normal threats, he’s hard to kill. However, when he sees something that he shouldn’t on a mission, he’s brought down and killed. Now, normally, that would be the end for Jim, however, he’s brought back, resurrected by a sorcerer and recruited for a top secret unit specialised for dealing with occult problems, called Gemini Cell. Nobody can know that they exist. However, as Jim soon discovers, his own superiors aren’t exactly the most trustworthy people on the planet, making things a lot more complicated than they were originally.

If you’ve never tried Cole’s novels before, you can jump on here and feel right at home. The rules of magic aren’t quite the same as what they would be further down the line, and all the characters are different as well, so you won’t be lost with overarching continuity, with the characters featured here being just as new to someone who will have read all of Cole’s books as they will be to someone trying his work for the first time. It makes the book feel fresh and exciting, an also allows for unpredictability, which isn’t really the case with prequels that feature the characters that you already know and love.

Once again, Black Hawk Down meets the X-Men is a more than appropriate comparison used to describe Cole’s work. If you like those two, then chances are, much like with the other books, you’ll love this. There's enough  here to make it feel both as though it's set in the same universe but also can stand on its own as an individual work, and as a result there's no reason why anybody who loved the first trilogy should be put off by this latest offering. 

The character development is paid as much attention to as the action and this is great to see, with Jim Schweitzer really being a character that gets fleshed out well. It’s interesting to see what happens to him when he gets thrown out of his depth and he works as a pretty compelling character for readers to follow over the course of the book.

Gemini Cell is another winner from Cole and serves as a successful prequel that doesn’t disappoint. I never did make a ‘most anticipated’ list for 2015 but this title would most certainly be near the top. And because it turned out to be as good as it was, Gemini Cell is probably going to end up at the top when that list turns into a ‘best of’ 2015 as well.


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