Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole


Jim Schweitzer makes being a Navy SEAL into an art. But his career is cut short when a hostile group learns his identity and attacks his home. There are no survivors.

That is, until Jim wakes up again. The people who have him tell him some of the worst news a man like him could ever hear. Jim's family was killed, but he is going to go on living and serving his country as a talisman, a member of Gemini Cell. Not only is magic real, but he's now been touched by it. A long-dead soul, a jinn named Ninip, is sharing Jim's ruined body with him. After repairs to keep the body intact, Jim and Ninip go on missions to subdue rogue magicians who pose a danger to American safety.

But each moment is a struggle for dominance. Ninip wants to take over Jim's magically enhanced body and kill everyone in sight. Jim is determined to live as well as he can, with hopes that he'll get to see his family's graves.

When two dead men struggle, the only ones who suffer are the living.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional, a fierce war­rior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees some­thing he was never meant to see on a covert mis­sion gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than pro­tecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is over­whelmed and taken down.
That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sor­cerer and recruited by a top secret unit dab­bling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t under­stand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ulti­mate war­rior. As he wres­tles with a lit­eral inner demon, Jim real­izes his new supe­riors are deter­mined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Gemini Cell takes place before Myke Cole's Shadow Ops trilogy (find my reviews here), but it doesn't make it a prequel... not really. It's an entirely new cast, a whole different situation, and honestly, a very different time. Magic is just starting to surface in Jim's time, as opposed to when it's fairly common, as in the trilogy. Honestly, Cole has been very smart in handling this new set of stories. A brand-new reader to Cole's works could pick up with Gemini Cell or with Shadow Ops: Control Point and sink into the universe with no confusion. Both Control Point and Gemini Cell are perfect entrypoints, and readers of either entry point can happily get a Cole-fix by reading the other material. It's brilliantly done.

This makes the fourth of Myke Cole's books that I've read, and while it has been some time since I finished Shadow Ops: Breach Zone, I remember how easy it is to read his prose. I zoomed through Gemini Cell in less than a week, partly due to ease, partly from excitement. I was waiting for this book, and when I finally got to read it, I didn't want to put it down.

The only thing that I think does get in the way, and this might be my own failing in comprehension, not in Cole's writing, is that some action scenes get a little too chaotic. The pacing goes so quick, and so much happens in a small space, that I got mind-tangled a few times. It didn't detract from the story or anything, but I do recall one incident where I had no idea a character had entered the fray... until Jim was already in the middle of grappling with him. That incident I think was my failing, but if the other character's entrance was so fast it was that easy to miss, I wonder if others have had the same problem. I might have just been reading too quick or been distracted a little. Not sure.

My Thoughts
I want to spend just 30 minutes in Myke Cole's head, particularly his imagination. The ideas behind Gemini Cell and the Shadow Ops trilogy are spectacular and intriguing. I haven't run into anything like them before, and I want more. I finished Gemini Cell  ready for the next book. Curse having to wait, but then again, I know what to expect from Myke Cole, and he'll take as long as he needs to get it right. When he puts out work, he does it very well.
That said, I loved Gemini Cell. It was a great step away (and back in time) from Oscar Britton and the Shadow Ops series, into a time when magic was just starting to come back. The Gemini Cell program is wholly different from the SOC in the Shadow Ops series, with a new school of magic at its center, and wow, does it make for some great conflict! I hope to see more development and information on the program and the jinn in following books.

Would I Recommend This Book? Definitely. I've been recommending Cole's books to people since I first read Control Point, and now I can add Gemini Cell to my recommend list. What's nice is I can recommend Gemini Cell to people with less intrigue in fantasy and magic and still get them a good story, and then maybe it'll whet appetites for the heavier fantastical elements in Shadow Ops: Control Point.  Or vice versa. I have a feeling that down the road, Cole is going to have a finger in a lot of genre pies, and that seems the way to be. I give Gemini Cell a rosewater-scented 5 of 5 stars.

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