New recruit Stef died, on a mission she was grossly unqualified to be on all because Agent Ryan couldn’t say no to the surrogate daughter who just wanted to impress him. And now she’s dead
Unless he breaks one of the fundamental Agency Rules and makes a wish to bring her back. There’s only really one choice - and a desperate need to keep it secret
Which isn’t easy when his Agency gets audited - not for bringing Stef back but because Recruit Curt is outraged by how Stef was put at risk and how little Ryan seems to care...
The shifting point of view of this book is interesting - switching away from Spyder’s viewpoint allows us a whole new angle to the world beyond her own.
In particular we see a lot more of Agent Ryan, his flaws and his limitations, those latter two being especially important. It’s easy to see Ryan as this perfect, calm, benevolent force because that is the image he presents to the world and he has done some truly beautiful, kind things.
But when we see him through the eyes of some of the people he has wronged or treated poorly we see a whole new angle. Then we get to see him through his own eyes and we see someone so very unsure, whose bad deeds come more from a deep lack of social graces and understanding and a constant sense of his own inadequacy backed with an almost fierce self-loathing
This really does make the short story Legacy far more relevant. By seeing Ryan’s views of his former self, Rhys, and how that affects him - how he holds his previous incarnation in contempt, even revulsion. How he fights not to follow in his former footsteps while at the same time constantly being judged by his predecessors standards. It’s an excellent shadow hanging over him. His internal conflict and the conflict between how everyone sees him and who he really is really stands out excellently
And is part of the theme of the whole book. We have Curt, the ex-Solstice recruit, so often hated by his fellow agents for his past and so torn over it. Frustrated and angry that he isn’t given the opportunities he should have, isn’t given a true place in the agency or treated as a member of the team by his fellow recruits. Yet at the same time he hates what he has done before and loathes the idea of returning to what he once was - his own self-loathing is as powerful as his disdain for his fellows. On top of that he has his own PTSD to deal with - the abuse he suffered at the hands of agents shadowing him and his actions.
Which brings us to Stef, conflicted and torn by her own mental illness, trying to think her way through it, escape the chains and traumas of her past and facing down her endless insecurity and how it drives her.
All these characters are conflicted, some living with different mental illnesses and all of them - perhaps most importantly - pursuing what they truly want and hope for. Despite the conflict, despite the mental illness, they all have their own wishes and hopes and goals and agendas they are willing to pursue.
The shifting point of view also allows us to see a lot more of the Agency, how it works and, again, fight a rather utopian impression we have had of it in the past. It is flawed, it has major issues and these are only just being explored and promises for some fascinating storylines in the future along with further building of the cosmology of his vast and complicated world.