DO NOT SURRENDER CONTROL.
Eighteen-year-old Sil Sarrah is determined to die a legend. But with only twelve months left before the supercomputer grafted to her brain kills her, Sil's time is quickly running out.
In the ten years she's been rescuing field agents for the Syntex corporation - by commandeering their minds from afar and leading them to safety - Sil hasn't lost a single life. And she's not about to start now.
But when a critical mission goes south, Sil is forced to flee the very company she once called home.
Desperate to prove she's no traitor, Sil infiltrates the Analog Army, an activist faction working to bring Syntex down. Her plan: to win back her employer's trust by destroying the group from within. Instead, she and the Army's reckless leader, Ryder, uncover a horrifying truth that threatens to undo all the good she's ever done.
With her tech rapidly degrading and her new ally keeping dangerous secrets of his own, Sil must find a way to stop Syntex in order to save her friends, her reputation - and maybe even herself.
I have said this before but standalone sci-fi is one of the hardest things to get right. You have to introduce a reader to a whole new world which is often very different from our own as well as set up a plot with a convincing beginning, middle and end. All of that squished into a few hundred pages is no mean feat!
Mindwalker is a great example of standalone sci-fi done well. As a reader we are introduced to the apocalyptic world full of radiation storms and crumbling civilisation. Large tech companies have stepped in to save the planet and one of them, Syntex has merged technology with human brains to create a new type of being – The Walkers. Doomed to only live until they are 19 before the technology in their head explodes, Walkers are tasked with missions to take over field agent’s bodies when their odds of survival are low and get them to safety. We meet Sil, one of the most gifted agents with a perfect streak record whose life is turned upside down when she gets set up on a very public mission.
The world building is done well, and we really get a feel not only for the cold and clinical world that Sil lives in as a Walker but also the outside world, what happened to it and what has been created in its aftermath. There were a few bits that I felt were a little under-explained, for example, religion is not touched on at all, however a popular swear word is ‘Christ-that-was’ and ‘Unholy mother’ is also referred to at some point. As we didn’t have any reference for this is it was a little confusing – I would have liked a bit of background on this especially as the curse word is used so often.
I liked the characters, however it is a young adult book and therefore the romance element was a little cringy in places. It’s very much the typical, girl meets boy she ‘hates’ from the offset who believes in a whole different world view to her and then they argue a lot before falling in love. However, there were a lot of other strong characters as well and they all felt very well-rounded and realistic.
The plot moves along nicely, I never felt like the pace dragged and I kept wanting to pick it up to see what would happen next. I actually didn’t guess the final twist and there was a lot of smaller plot points that I did not see coming which kept the book interesting.
Overall, Mindwalker is a great standalone piece of young adult sci-fi, I can see the author Kate Dylan has hinted there may be more books in the same world and I will certainly be keeping my eyes out for these. Thank you to NetGalley & Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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