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The Digital Plague

Posted by Shawn Boyles On Friday, August 13, 2010

THE DIGITAL PLAGUE is the second book in the Avery Cates Series by Jeff Somers. The previous book, THE ELECTRIC CHURCH has already been reviewed on this site and I highly encourage you to read that review because everything said in it could apply equally well to this volume.

The basic premise of the book is that Avery Cates lives in a bleak future where he takes jobs killing people. It’s not personal, it’s just business. In the beginning chapters of each book Avery gets caught up in something big, whether it’s the formation of a robotic church bent on world domination, or the end of humanity as we know it through a deadly nanobot virus. You know, the usual. He then spends the rest of the book barely surviving and killing lots and lots of people. I don’t say this in a bad way at all. On the contrary these books are a riot. Following Avery Cates on his violent and gruesome adventures is the equivalent to a summer blockbuster movie. There are gunfights and explosions enough to satisfy, and the action keeps moving throughout the book at a breakneck pace.

This time around Avery Cates finds that those around him are dying horrible deaths from a mysterious disease (a digital plague perhaps?). Only for Avery himself, he’s not dying from it. He is the host, the originator of the disease and in his case the digital plague he carries is suppressed in him and in a small area around him by a small suppressor field. The book follows Avery and a group of government workers who can never stray farther than 20 feet away from Avery, lest they die, as they search for who is responsible for this plague in the first place and why.

Like I said the book moves along at a brisk pace. One of my favorite aspects of these books is the short time frame in which they happen. When Avery realizes there is trouble, he goes about to solve it, fast. The book happens in the space of a few short days (bloody, violent days). Towards the beginning of the book I was a bit worried that these adventures would become a bit formulaic. Avery Cates gets in trouble, he gets beat up, he wins, the end. I’ve seen it before. Then in the last third of the Digital Plague Somers throws a twist into the plot and turns the book into something else entirely. Did I see the twist coming (and no, I won’t tell you what the twist is. Read it for yourself.)? Yes, the twist was a bit obvious. That doesn’t change the fact that it was a fun, fun read. I read through the end of the book with a smile on my face, satisfied that I got a big fat dose of Avery Cates violence and that Somers had decided to take it up a notch in this book. The violence and fun of the Electric Church, already turned up all the way to 11, had reached new heights in the Digital Plague.

This is not a deep book. This book will not go on to win major awards and be talked about through the ages as a landmark in Science Fiction. It is, however, a really fun book. Somers seems to have perfected his recipe for fast exciting SF and I’m glad I could come along for the ride. I’ll be picking up the sequels to this one. Do yourself a favor and pick up either THE ELECTRIC CHURCH, or THE DIGITAL PLAGUE and give them a shot.

Age Recommendation: 18+ for a whole lot of language and violence
Language: Somers characters all use about as much colorful language as is possible
Violence: Yeah, maybe you caught that a lot of people die in these books. I’ll say it again here. A LOT OF PEOPLE DIE IN THESE BOOKS.
Sex: Surprisingly none. Usually if an author has violence and language they throw some sex in for the whole trifecta. Not so here (which I was grateful for)

Note from Nick & Steve: First of all, yes, we impose our will everywhere. Why? Because we CAN. Second, the covers to this series are freaking awesome. Third, if you take Richard K Morgan, remove the shock-value sex, add more death and destruction, you get the idea of what to expect from Somers in the Avery Cates Series. The end.


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