Published on February 19th, 2012; Self Published
Picture and Synopsis from the Goodreads book page.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest, thoughtful review. No money or promises of a good review were exchanged in for the book.
Synopsis: As a small boy, Darren Kiel was witness to his father’s corruption and contemptible misconduct. As he grew, that experience gave rise to a seething need to atone for his father’s crimes, to set the world aright, to enforce order. Now an adult, Darren is thrust into a world far more horrific than he could ever have imagined: The Orchard, a region inundated by crime, violence, poverty, decay, and desperation. With swelling intolerance, hardening resolve, and miraculous technology, Darren sets upon an obsessive crusade to correct what has gone wrong in this society’s machine. As the campaign escalates, Darren sees the violence spread to every corner of his life and threaten or destroy everything he’s worked for and everyone he holds dear. But is this truly Darren’s war or is all this just a small part of a much larger design that he is only now beginning to glimpse?
This book was utterly fascinating! Usually that is not a guarantee that it’s good but this is the excellent kind of fascinating. In the beginning I was a bit skeptical of the plot, Darren Kiel is a brilliant young man and if the head of a multi-billion dollar science and technology company that is in the process of being bought out. As a result Darren is forced to spend more time in the city in meetings and sees the corruption and crime in his city. He has always had a burning desire to stamp out corruption since he saw it in his father as a small boy, and decides that he has the resources and the ability to make a difference in his city. I kind of rolled my eyes at this point and thought, oh great another story where the poor just wallow in crime and filth until a rich boy comes along to save the day. Oh, how I was wrong and I’m not too proud to admit that I was wrong.
I could not put the book down, there was something completely entrancing about the prose that just pulled me in and wouldn’t let me stop reading. Germann shows a lot of skill in this novel because it’s a quick read but only because you can’t put it down long enough to give it some time to sit. Darren is a great main character. He’s very intelligent but doesn’t flaunt it and make the other characters seem less. He reminded me of the Jack Reacher character in a way. He cares only about right and wrong and intervening for the average citizen’s benefit. He doesn’t go off on a rampage and try to take out all the criminals in one swoop. Darren puts on his hero suit and looks for one, just one crime to be taking place, and prevent it from being completed. This may not seem like a lot, but in a city littered with gangs, the constant attack on their money and business can lead to a big hit. And make Darren a big target in the process too.
This whole story seemed very human to me. It spoke to me on a human level and I think that is a result of not only the plot but the characters too. They are people you can relate to. So if they are having a dilemma, then you can empathize with that and understand what they are going through. This is a quality in fictional characters that is difficult to get right, but this one gets it right. I didn’t even mind the science aspects of the book even though they usually make my head spin. This was described well and so I found that while I may not completely understand the complexities of it, I got the basic idea down.
However, there were a few things that kept this from being a complete five stars. My first problem was that it only seemed like we were getting a partially fleshed out plot. I loved everything that happened, but we know for a fact that this has been going on for at least 6 months, yet we only see a small portion of that time. It was important to see the devolution of Darren’s plan, this could have been fleshed out more and I felt the book would have been better as a whole.
My second issue was with Darren’s loyalty to Corrine and her in general actually. I didn’t get their relationship at all. As far as the reader is concerned they’ve known each other for maybe a few weeks and actually seen each other a handful of times with a grand total of one kiss. Yet when she discovers his secret she feels that she has a right to be angry, and berates him for almost being as bad as the criminals and she should call the cops. A few minutes later when the cops show up, she resolutely refuses to give them any information at all and acts so loyal. You weren’t a few minutes ago honey, you had the 9 and 1 typed on your cell phone right before they showed up! Then when Corrine is used as a pawn to get Darren, she states that he’ll show up to rescue her and he does. I just don’t understand it. They hardly know each other, taking a stranger to get Darren’s attention should have worked just as well.
My last problem was with the deaths in the book. Characters die, but no one that we really know that well nor care about. Everyone who we actually care about stays perfectly safe and sound through the whole book. While this didn’t necessarily have to happen, the violence and death in the ending of the book was lessened in emotional impact because these weren’t characters that we cared much about. This could have been resolved by fleshing out the plot a bit and telling us more about who these characters are.
None of these things affected my overall enjoyment of the book however and I only found myself considering those things after the book had finished. At the turn of the last page I was interesting in what would come next even though the story was wrapped up nicely, it still left the door open for more story later. I, for one, would be interested in finding out what is to come.