Saintcrow (the Jill Kismet series) teams up a cyborg agent and a genetically engineered child vampire for a cyberpunk western adventure in this lackluster novel. An excess of technobabble certainly gives a sense of the setting but distracts from the story. The population of the future U.S. has mostly retreated to cities, and the government heavily restricts travel to the wastelands outside. When the narrator agent is sent to kill a young boy, Geoffrey, she balks and instead takes him away from his corporate caretakers and smuggles him out of the city. Out west they find more civilization than they were expecting, as well as several groups looking to get Geoffrey back. The agent’s voice is coldly clinical about the realities of her enhanced body and job as an assassin, which makes her reticence to discuss Geoffrey’s vampirism, even in her internal narration (“He needed to... drink”), seem out of character. Geoffrey is a much more interesting character, especially when it is revealed that he can telepathically communicate with the sand worms in the desert. Unfortunately, one or two interesting ideas don’t make up for a slow plot overburdened with exposition. (Aug.)
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.