STORMBLOOD | JEREMY SZAL
About the Book
Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper, a biosoldier fighting for the intergalactic governing body of Harmony against a brutal invading empire. Now, he fights against the stormtech: the DNA of an extinct alien race Harmony injected into him, altering his body chemistry and making him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. It made him the perfect soldier, but it also opened a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.
But when Harmony tells him that his former ally Reapers are being murdered, Vakov is appalled to discover his estranged brother is likely involved in the killings. They haven’t spoken in years, but Vakov can’t let his brother down, and investigates. But the deeper he goes, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes, and Vakov discovers that the war might not be over after all. It’ll take everything he has to unearth this terrible secret, although doing so might mean betraying his brother. If his own body doesn’t betray him first.
A vibrant and talented new voice in SFF: alien technology, addictive upgrades, a soldier determined to protect his family, and a thief who is prepared to burn the world down...
Stormblood by Jeremy Szal is one of those books that have been on my kindle for ages. In fact, I have both books on my kindle but it has taken me until now to actually get to it.
However, when I eventually did, I enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s just one of those books that is extremely likeable.
The story itself revolves around Vakov Fukisawa, an enhanced soldier called a Reaper that was engineered to be a fighting machine with some alien biotech called Stormtech to fight in a brutal war against the Harvesters. The drug itself does all the things that you would expect like imbuing the subject with increased strength, resistance to fatigue, honing senses etc. All the things that you would expect that would make a good soldier. However, on the down side it makes the user addicted to adrenaline thrills, have an increased compulsion for aggression and violence and have a predilection for activities that give an adrenaline rush, which as you can imagine is good for a soldier, but not good for a person that has now been decommissioned. As a result, when we first meet Vakov, he is living in the murkier side of life as a smuggler or any other side hustle that he and his techy companion, Grim can get their hands on.
When we first meet Vak and Grim, they are involved in stealing some sort of object from a criminal gang boss called The Jackal. They end up coming to the attention of the local military on the Harmony capital of Compass. A hollowed-out asteroid, home to the citizens of Harmony who also coincidentally made The Reapers in their fight against The Harvesters in The Reaper War.
In order to escape a lengthy prison sentence, Vakov finds himself recruited to the Harmony military in a fight against drugs. Since the end of The Reaper Wars, Stormtech, the biotech of an ancient civilisation called The Shinoi has been flooding Compass with devastating effects. Addicts have been known to involve themselves in acts of violence against the citizens of Compass or are becoming virtual zombies thus creating a massive problem.
Assigned to Katherine Kowalski’s division, Vakov soon finds that the Stormtech problem is larger than he first thought and has its roots in Compass’s past.
Now, I am not sure what sub-genre of Sci Fi that this falls into, but to be honest I don’t really care! I just know that I enjoyed it immensely. In some ways it kind of reminds me of one of my other favourite sci fi books, Corin Hayes by G. R. Mathews. It has that mix of noir, sci fi and action that I can get on board with. In addition to that, whilst there are plenty of science fictiony stuff in it, it is not overwhelming and helps the plot move along. One of the things that I have a problem with Science fiction, particularly hard Sci Fi is that I have a problem envisioning all the tech and sciency stuff, but this had just the right amount of sci fi jargon and realism that I could get my head round making it both accessible and enjoyable.
The writing itself is really good! One of the things that I like in writing, particularly in action books, is when the author is able to make the quiet pieces of the book as interesting as the high-octane action set pieces, and Jeremy Szal does this really well. For instance, I loved the interactions between the characters, particularly between Vak and Kowalski who have a growing friendship in the book that feels quite organic rather than an immediate insta relationship.
In addition to that, I really liked the idea of the Stormtech itself and how it is a piece of alien technology. I don’t want to go into the details too much as there are some pretty good revelations about the tech and its impact that I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone that is new to the series.
If you haven’t read Stormblood, then I must say I highly recommend it. Especially as the third instalment is coming out later this year.