...continued from page 2
Fortunately, author Richard Phillips is one of those wonderful authors who shares my commitment to make each book in a series stand alone. This is done by including in each volume all the information necessary to understand the story contained in its pages.
So even though, many chapters in, I realized that there had to be a previous volume, I felt no need to stop listening to Immune and find the first volume. On the contrary, I could hardly stop listening as the story raced forward.
With teen protagonists and no explicit sex (though plenty of sexual tension) I'm betting the series – The Rho Agenda – could be viewed as Young Adult fiction.
In this middle book, three very smart teens have been seriously augmented by their experience in a crashed alien spaceship. The ship they have explored is very different from the Rho spaceship long known to the government. Nanotech from the Rho spaceship seems to have the cure for all human ills – but it comes with a catch.
The two spaceships were enemies, which shot each other down. They are now, in effect, continuing their battle, using humans as their surrogates. The Rho ship makes humans over in its own devastating image; but the Second Ship wakens human potential and makes the three young heroes exactly like themselves, only way better.
Watching the Rho ship manipulate a fourth – and more troubled – teen who has been surgically connected to it is both painful and enthralling.
For a thriller writer, Phillips handles technological and psychological matters with the sophistication of the best science fiction; and Phillips does a reasonably good job of involving government officials at the highest levels without descending into the usual errors of sci-fi writers who attempt to write thrillers.
Most important, though, are the relationships among the three teenage heroes. They are all well-drawn, complicated figures with real connections to each other and to their families. This is a devilishly hard thing to bring off; few thriller writers even try. Considering that these are Richard Phillips's first books, this is a very promising turn: He is likely to get better and better.
Add to this the fact that Phillips is a former Army Ranger and has a master's degree in physics, completing his thesis work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, I think we can safely say that in both the science and the combat portions of these books, he knows what he's talking about.
In fact, I dare to predict that Richard Phillips is very quickly going to be very well known as one of the best and most popular writers of near-future sci-fi. Heaven knows the genre needs fresh new writers with both skill and expertise.
I highly recommend Immune for adults and teenagers who enjoy techno-thrillers. I intend to listen to the first volume as soon as I'm finished with the Churchill biography; and the third Rho Agenda volume will be published before this review appears, so you can get all three books at once.
Now I'm trying to figure out whom to give this series to for Christmas.