Book Review: The Courier

courierThe Courier
Gerald Brandt
Dystopia/Sci-fi
297 pages
Published 2016

Oh this was good. This was rocketing sci-fi action reminiscient of Shadowrun – the corporations control everything, and everything is taped, tracked, and monitored. Cities have merged into giant, sprawling, multi-level megaliths, where only the top level is open to the sky, and the lower you get, the more squalor people live in. (And the lower the ceiling gets, too. Level one is a somewhat claustrophobic 5 stories high, and then a ceiling.)

Trigger warning for the book:

The main character has flashbacks of being sexually abused as a young teen, and they are fairly detailed. Perhaps too detailed – but they do give good motivation for why she fights so hard to avoid becoming a victim again. (There’s also a constant threat of injury, death, and torture, if she gets caught.) The sexual abuse wasn’t even hinted at by anything else I’ve read, so I wanted to make sure I pointed it out.

That aside, and even that is handled fairly well, it just took me by surprise – The Courier is pretty great writing. It’s the first of three books, currently – I don’t know if it’s a trilogy, or if there are more planned. The author is also Canadian and lives in Winnipeg, making this the fourth book for my Read Canadian Challenge! The Courier was actually on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s list of the 10 Canadian Science Fiction Books You Should Read.

I like that the main character evolved through the book – from a gruff courier who thought she was doing pretty well, but not really thinking beyond the end of the day and a shower, back slightly to running and licking her wounds while wondering why the world hates her, to “No, fuck this, and fuck these people, I WILL FIGHT YOU.” It was all a very believable reaction to some extraordinary events. There’s an excerpt in the back of the book for the second book, and the third book comes out in November. I will definitely be trying to get my hands on those. Unfortunately, my library only has the second book as an audio book. I’ll have to check the Enoch Pratt catalog.

From the cover of The Courier:

Kris Ballard is a motorcycle courier. A nobody. Level 2 trash in a multileve city that stretches from San Francisco to the Mexican border – a land where corporations make all the rules. A runaway since the age of fourteen, Kris struggles to make a life for herself, barely scraping by, working hard to survive without anyone’s help.

But a late day delivery changes everything when she walks in on the murder of one of her clients. Now she’s stuck with a mysterious package that everyone wants. It looks like the corporations want Kris gone, and are willing to go to almost any length to make it happen.

Hunted, scared, and alone, she retreats to the only place she knows she can hide: the Level 1 streets. Fleeing from people who seem to know her every move, Kris is almost out of options when she’s rescued by Miller – a member of an underground resistance group – only to be pulled deeper into a world she doesn’t understand.

Together Kris and Miller barely manage to stay one step ahead of the corporate killers, but it’s only a matter of time until Miller’s resources and their luck run out…

 

This is #4 for my Read Canadian Challenge!

#1 – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
#2 – The Red Winter Trilogy
#3 – Station Eleven

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Book Review: The Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles by Hannah Jayne

underwrapsUnder Wraps
by Hannah Jayne
343 pages
Published 2011

Under Attack
by Hannah Jayne
342 pages
Published 2011

Under Suspicion
by Hannah Jayne
347 pages
Published 2012
Urban Fantasy

So this is a series review, rather than a single book review. The Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles by Hannah Jayne revolves around Sophie Lawson, a human immune to magic, and her vampire roommate, Nina. They both work for the Underworld Detection Agency, an organization that licenses and keeps track of demons and supernatural creatures, providing things like health insurance and legal services that the mundane world simply wouldn’t be able to handle. (Who’s going to survive serving court-ordered papers to a dragon?)

The action was good in all three books; my main gripe is that for a book with a female lead who spends a lot of time fantasizing about men – there were no sex scenes until 40 pages from the end of the third book, and THAT was a fade to black after the kissing. I kinda feel like these books just teased me along for three books and then didn’t even bother to deliver! I mean, when in the FIRST CHAPTER of the FIRST BOOK you get this:

Hayes and I settled into identical plush leather cigar chairs opposite Mr. Sampson. I stifled a delighted Carrie Bradshaw grin and made a mental note to tell Nina about the hot-male sandwich I found myself in: Pete Sampson with his miles-deep, chocolate brown eyes, close-cropped ash blond hair, and GQ model build; and Detective Parker Hayes, rich blue eyes, chiseled jawline sprinkled with stubble, Roman god nose – I’d leave out the part about him being smug. 

One kind of expects that to GO somewhere! (Especially since the ogling goes on for several paragraphs…) Also, that’s not how you use a semi-colon.

underattack

The other complaint I have is that the covers show her looking badass – redhead in a bustier, holding a pair of guns or a sword or a dagger – when in reality she’s anything but. Her only power is being immune to magic and having friends. She pukes when she sees her first corpse, is taught to shoot in the first book but when confronted with a home invader, rather than shoot him, she THROWS THE GUN AT HIM. This chick is ANYTHING but badass. She’s not even terribly smart. She is likable though, and I did enjoy the books. I was just disappointed they didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

From the back of Under Wraps:

As a human immune to magic, Sophie Lawson can help everyone from banshee to zombie transition into normal, everyday San Francisco life. With a handsome werewolf as her UDA boss and a fashionista vampire for a roommate, Sophie knows everything there is to know about the undead, the unseen, and the uncanny.

Until a rash of gruesome murders has demons and mortals running for cover, and Sophie finds herself playing sidekick to detective Parker Hayes. Dodging raging bloodsuckers, bad-tempered fairies, and love-struck trolls is one thing. But when Sophie discovers Parker isn’t what he seems, she’s got only one chance to figure out whom to trust. Because an evil hiding in plain sight is closing in… and about to make one wisecracking human its means to ultimate power.

From the back of Under Attack:

Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco’s demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn’t about to trust Alex’s all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie’s past, and a malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.

undersuspicion

From the back of Under Suspicion:

Being a human immune to magic helped Sophie Lawson get promoted. It’s also made her a major, very reluctant player in a game that stretches beyond even the Underworld. having handsome buttoned-down Englishman Will as her new guardian is one tempting blessing, especially since sexy fallen angel Alex is mysteriously MIA lately. But as a frightening number of demons start disappearing around the city, Sophie suspects that an Armageddon-level prophecy is about to become everyone’ nightmare. And her investigation is testing her bravery – and Will’s unexpected vulnerability – in ways neither could predict. Now Sophie and Will are fast running out of time as an unstoppable evil prepares to lay waste to demons and humans alike.

Having typed out the backs of these three books, I have a few more things to say. Specifically about the last one because it’s misleading as hell. There was no prophecy. Anywhere. Unless I COMPLETELY missed something. Final call: these books are decent fluff. I’m not going to bother with the rest of the series though.