by Daniel Suarez (2014)
Recommended for fans of:
* Advanced science fiction technology
* Breakneck technothriller pacing
* Shady government directives and rogue agencies
Particle physicist Jon Grady makes the scientific achievement of a lifetime. He creates a device to reflect gravity. Then a shadowy organization seizes everything. Their mission: to prevent social upheaval caused by sudden technological advance. The Bureau of Technology Control uses the technologies they harvest to live our future.
When Grady refuses to join the BTC, he’s thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison for rebellious geniuses. Even if Grady escapes, how can he defeat an enemy with a technological advantage half a century in the making?
My result: Enjoyable
Full Book Review
Influx is an enjoyable rush of a technothriller, with the emphasis on the technology. After a first chapter of dense technobabble (don’t worry, that eases up a little after the intro), the story picks up quickly.
For the first half of the story, I really enjoyed Influx. The Bureau of Technology Control pairs dubious moral superiority with a stunning abuse of power that makes it easy to hate them. With bureaucratic efficiency, they justify increasingly evil actions. It’s terrifying to read, and made me ponder the clandestine operations of real world governments. Mind engaged: check.
Next, the main character is shipped off to a high tech prison and tortured, both mentally and physically. It’s impossible not to feel for Grady, and to suffer along with him. After the depths of despair, every moment of relief is welcome, and those who provide it seem like angels. Emotions engaged: check.
Then, the second half of Influx. Events accelerate into an adrenaline rush of high-tech combat and ever higher stakes. At first, it’s exciting after the torturous stillness of the prison. But as the battles escalate with no break from the action, it all becomes a bit numbing.
Characters are rushed from one battle to the next with no emotional consequences. More space is given to the description of how each tech gadget works than to how it affects the characters. Almost immediately, the emotional connection is lost. As the technology becomes more and more outlandish, it doesn’t take long to lose intellectual engagement as well.
If you enjoy technology heavy science fiction and relentlessly fast pacing, you will likely enjoy Influx. But lack of emotional follow through and characters that get shortchanged for a chance to gush about tech make Influx a flawed novel. How much you enjoy Influx will depend on how much you’re willing to give up characterization in exchange for imaginative technologies and fast pacing.
If you like Influx
You might also enjoy:
- The Flight of the Silvers – An adrenaline-fueled race through an alternate dimension, as a group of survivors stays one step ahead of enemies, protected only by strange new abilities they don’t understand. Like Influx, it prioritizes fast pacing and new abilities over deep characterization.
- Andromeda Strain – For science fiction technothrillers that keep both the mind and the heart engaged, look no further than Michael Crichton. Andromeda Strain details the deadly spread of an alien virus let loose on Earth.
- Black Order – The Sigma Force novels are high stakes technothrillers that are more real science than science fiction, but still have that touch of the imagined to take them to the next level. The fast-paced story is perfectly paced with interludes for character interaction and emotional follow through, and the action resumes quickly enough to make for a roller coaster read.