Cameron Tan is having a summer break – somewhat enforced by his less than impressed mother – a very important figure who is not amused by his latest grades. It’s a break from his training as a Prophus operative – carrying the alien Quasling in his mind – but not too unwelcome
That is, until he finds himself on the front lines of World War 3.
This book was fascinating and frustrating
Fascinating because I love the world setting and the concept. People bonding with a Quasing, alien beings who then bring their experience and knowledge to the partnership while at the same time drawing human nations into their own civil war. I like the balance of this, Tao brings experience, knowledge and intelligence to the partnership with Cameron, but he doesn’t bring super powers or awesome abilities. He has insight and intelligence to offer, but skills and abilities are all Cameron‘s own. Including his great combat skills
It’s also easy to make a character a combat monster and call it done – but Cameron has a lot of stress riding on him that no amount of combat ability can really change. He has huge expectations laid on him, a large legacy to fill, demanding parents, a demanding Tao and hard decisions to make. In many ways, no matter how dangerous he is, he is not even remotely ready for this task. In fact, his doubts and difficulties make his combat skills seem almost surprising – which says a lot about the ideals I’ve absorbed from the genre. A male protagonist who can cause so much damage is surely super confident and can’t have any doubts! In Cameron we see skills and insecurity, ability and inexperience and a whole lot of doubts and pressures that he’s desperately not ready for
It’s also one of those books where you can sit there smugly as an audience and say “you’re making the wrong decision” because there’s an obvious, logical choice. But it’s easy to make those logical choices when you don’t have an emotional connection to those left behind.
I think that may be one flaw of this book – because while Cameron’s growth, conflict and emotional development is impressive and excellent – I can’t say the same for the people around him. I think it’s because the book is pretty short and there are a lot of people and they kind of just become names. I mean, from Cameron’s reactions I can see how painful it would be for him to leave a person behind or to see them hurt –but I don’t have any connection to these characters.