The world has only recently emerged from a three hundred year war which saw half of the world’s population wiped out and the rise of five superpowers. Despite the hundreds of millions who died, the Borders War was nearly bloodless because of the sonicrifle—weaponized sound waves, tuned to their highest frequency, and harnessed to kill.
Merq Grayson has known only war. He is a skilled Peacemaker, soldier, and sniper. And it is his destiny to right the wrong created by his grandfather six generations removed—the man who invented the sonicbullet.
Armise Darcan is his enemy. A sniper and Dark Ops officer who fought for the People’s Republic of Singapore in the Borders War, Armise may be the only person on the planet strong enough to keep Merq from completing his mission.
Their loyalties are to conflicting countries and diverging agendas, and despite the very real threat to their lives if they’re discovered, Merq and Armise keep finding their way into each other’s beds. It is a drive which Merq is sure will kill him one day.
But how much time either of them has is questionable. As Opposition is pitted against Revolution, the Borders War reignites, and Merq and Armise have to decide where, and with whom, their real loyalties lie.
I’ll have to warn you before I start…I’m a little bit raw. I finished this 5 book series a couple days ago and still haven’t gotten it out of my system.
HOW can one review a series that took their breath away, that felt like a shared journey through lands and life, that left you mourning that there wasn’t more to be experienced with the characters? What are the right words to type to make someone in front of the screen understand?
READ THIS SERIES.
To help clarify some confusion: the first 3 books were released back in 2013. In 2016, the first 3 books were rereleased with additional content (SO WORTH IT) and sharper editing (SO WORTH IT) and followed up with books 4 and 5 to end the series (SO FUCKING WORTH IT).
The series follows two men on opposites sides of a world war. Merq Grayson was raised from youth to be not only a soldier, but to be a machine. Fearless. Powerful. Focused. Armise Darcan was raised from youth to be not only a soldier, but to be a machine. Fearless. Powerful. Focused. They are the only ones that can challenge the other. They are directed time and again to eliminate the other.
And they are in love.
Well, it takes a bit for them to get there, but they are…in love.
What makes this series work so well for me are Merq & Armise. I LOVE them. I want to yell and scream at them to STOP hiding things. I want to chastise them for not talking to each other. I want to protect them from powers that be that want to use them. I want to save them. Two soldiers, built to perfection…and I want to save them.
What also makes this series work so well for me are the side characters. They fascinate me. There are written with the depth and care that are normally reserved for main characters. In fact, I WANT them to be main characters in their own stories as well!!!!
What also makes this series work so well for me is the plot development, the world-building, the political intrigue, the confusion over who the good guys are…all of it. I felt lost at times. Which made the “holy shit” aha moments of revelation and realization so so good.
What also makes this series work for me is that it’s fearless. SA McAuley went there on more than one occasion. I would read something, stare at my kindle, and then have to get up and take a walk. I would be angry, or shocked, or revulsed, or saddened. And then I’d hurry back to find out what was next.
I could go on and on…
I found myself crying more times that I would have expected. I found myself pleading for the story of an already-written book to change and not do what I suspected it would do, go where I suspected it would go. And then I found myself having to trust…trust the author to get me to the end. Battered, bruised, but there…just as she did with Merq & Armise.
And THAT is the kind of journey as a reader that I am so thankful to have been on.
This book is about soldiers and war. Dystopian, but feels contemporary. Does not skimp on details and only carefully reveals when the time is right the answers you’re dying for. It puts the characters through the ringer, physically and emotionally, and there is such a sense of “this is so worth it” by the end.
The characters: I think they start off feeling like stereotypes. They end up crawling under your skin and staying there. I have deep deep affection for Merq & Armise and every external and internal battle they face. I love Simeon and Ex. Jegs and Chen kick ass in their own ways. Naveed is an enigma that I want to know so much more about. And do not EVEN make me start telling you about all the BAD guys!
Here’s the thing: you’ve got 2 emotionally stunted soldiers who have never in their life been in love. They spend almost 20 years giving each other breadcrumbs (and trust me, the reader only gets breadcrumbs too…but they’re perfectly seasoned and so tasty) as they figure out what they mean to each other. All that and they’re pawns in the middle of a war where loyalties and sides shift constantly. But, if you’re patient…if you hang in there…the things you might have thought to be frustrating are what make that journey so satisfying by the end.
If you like dystopian war stories, it’s for you. If you like love stories built over years and years, it’s for you. If you like soldiers (and who doesn’t like soldiers) it’s for you. But really, if you like carefully plotted, epic series that will blow your socks off not only with the twists and turns of the story, but the evolution and growth of the characters…yeah, it’s for you.