Stars: 2.5 out of 5
Honestly, my reaction after finishing this book is “meh.”
I went into this book excited about the premise. An underwater city? Humanity averting the end of the world for once? This sounded so exciting! Unfortunately, we spend little to no time at all in the actual underwater city.
And the worldbuilding isn’t really fleshed out at all. So the mankind mostly lives underwater to stay safe from solar flares? Okay, I get get onboard with that if you explain to me how that works. How did we manage to combat the enormous pressure in the ocean depths? How do we deal with the endless night, the decompression, etc.? Our protagonist seems to zip in and out of the deepest ocean reaches to the highest mountain in a matter of minutes with no visible side effects.
Also, how are those seascrapers built? That hints at significant advances in engineering and construction materials, especially considering that today we can barely explore the depths in what amounts to an extremely reinforced safe with small windows. Yet 100 years from now, after some major wars and natural catastrophes, mind you, humanity can build penthouses at the bottom of the ocean that are about 80% reinforced glass. I know this is sci-fi. I am ready to suspend my disbelief, but the author needs to throw me a bone – some kind of explanation is in order.
That’s a trend for every scientific advancement in this book. Things happen because they need to happen for the story, and no thought is given to how feasible they are. This approach really undermines the credibility of the story and the worldbuilding starts to wobble and break around the edges.
But the biggest problem with this book for me is that I couldn’t care less for any of the characters. Quite frankly, they are all horrible human beings.
The protagonist used to be a killer for hire. Yes, he killed for the greater good, or at least that’s how he justifies it, but he is still a cold-blooded murderer. Add to that that he is on his fourth marriage and and his fourth kid. He’s lost all contact with his previous wives after the divorce (apart from the one that was killed), and doesn’t even know what happened to his children. He even mentions in the story that he is in the same country as his first ex-wife at one point, but has no desire to check on them. He basically ignores his current wife and avoids his daughter, because “children never interested him.” What a wonderful human being! /end sarcasm.
And the woman he works for is even worse, especially if the story about her lying about the Killing Rock is true. Akira Kimura is a sociopath and a megalomaniac who has zero concern for anyone but herself. Her daughter is even worse.
So the protagonist’s constant devotion to Akira feels more and more twisted and sick, the further the story progresses and the more we learn about that individual. And his unwillingness to kill Ascalon also makes no sense at all. In fact, the whole ending is a perfect example of a protagonist robbed of his agency. He didn’t make the decision in the end, circumstances did it for him, which makes the payoff extremely unsatisfying in my eyes.
All in all, this wasn’t a book I will remember. And this certainly wasn’t on of the best books I read in 2022. It was okay. It kept me interested enough to finish it, but that’s about it. I’m certainly not interested enough to pick up the next book in the series.
PS: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.