Sci-fi thriller.

Publication year: 2014
Format: Audio
Running time: 13 hours and 46 minutes

Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Jeff Gurner

John Grady is a brilliant scientist who has just invented a way to manipulate gravity. However, when he and his team shares the news with John’s mentor, a retired physicist, a group of apparent religious fanatics attacks the lab. However, they turn out to work for a shadowy group called the Bureau of Technology Control. The Bureau’s aim is to control any tech which could change the world. They capture Grady (and his team but Grady is separated from them) and give him a choice: join them or become their prisoner for the rest of his life.

The Bureau has fantastic tech: various very advanced weapons and communication methods but also the cure for cancer and the ability to end hunger. Yet, they don’t share the tech because they claim that the tech will cause chaos and even the collapse of the civilized world. They themselves use it, though. Grady doesn’t want to join them so he’s sent on an island all alone. After some weeks of isolation, the Bureau sends an agent in a robot body to ask if Grady now wants to join them. Again, he refuses and this time he’s sentenced to a secret facility where he’s tortured by an A.I. until he agrees to co-operate.

The book has a couple of other POV characters. One of them is Hedrick, the head of the Bureau. He’s pretty much straight-forward villain hungry for power. Another is an FBI agent who was investigating the attack at Grady’s lab. She’s a hard working agent loyal to her bosses. Another is Alexis who is the Bureau’s creature. Literally because she’s an advanced human created by the Bureau. Her lifespan is much longer than a normal human’s and she’s also more beautiful, faster, and stronger. She also emits pheromones which make her irresistible to most men and some women. But she’s also literally the property of the Bureau which means that her whole life is constantly monitored and she can’t have children. She’s grown up thinking that the Bureau is really a benevolent organization.

This is a fast-paced SF thriller. The first few chapters have a lot of tech jargon but it’s definitely worth getting past it. Grady is in a horrible situation, tortured and isolated by a very powerful organization which is led by paranoid, megalomaniac Hedrick. The Bureau was started as a US institution but is by now deeply undercover and influences the whole world.

Grady never thinks that the Bureau might have some sort of point and the Bureau is shown as unrepentant, manipulative bad guys. I was also a bit disappointed in how stereotypical Alexis turned up to be: she’s a woman so of course she wants to have kids. Her “superpower” is… being very beautiful and desirable to all guys and yet she apparently doesn’t have sex because she can’t know if a guy wants her only because of the pheromones.

But these things aside, I really enjoyed this book and might look up Suarez’s earlier work. This book was in Audible’s 2 books for 1 credit promotion so I got it almost at random. Turned out to be a good choice!