Terminated by Rachel Caine
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Already addicted to the pharmaceutical drug that keeps her body from decomposing, Bryn has to stop a secretive group of rich and powerful investors from eliminating the existing Returné addicts altogether. To ensure their plan to launch a new, military-grade strain of nanotech, the investors’ undead assassin—who just happens to be the ex-wife of Bryn’s lover Patrick—is on the hunt for anyone that stands in their way.
And while Bryn’s allies aren’t about to go down without a fight, the secret she’s been keeping threatens to put those closest to her in even more danger. Poised to become a monster that her own side—and her own lover—will have to trap and kill, Bryn needs to find the cure to have any hope of preserving the lives of her friends, and her own dwindling humanity.”
Oh dear. I usually try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but in this case, I need to make an exception. I can’t talk honestly about this book without giving away a few things, so consider this your warning. Read no further if you want to go into this book with an open mind.
The first major issue that I have with this novel is continuity. I caught one minor continuity error, which was no big deal, but the book opens with a major one. And by major, I mean “changes the direction of the book from where the second book was having it go”. I might not have caught either of these problems if I hadn’t read the second and third books back to back… but the fact remains that I did, and that big one is too big to ignore. I even went back and re-read the final scenes of Two Weeks’ Notice to make sure that I wasn’t imagining things.
At the end of book two, Bryn and FBI agent Riley have been infected with a souped-up version of the Returne drug. They’re super-strong, super-fast, able to heal almost anything in seconds, and have to consume massive amounts of protein to support the new breed of nanites. Yes, they’ve turned into traditional zombies. As Bryn and Riley escape from the lab, they’re met by a few other characters, and the conversations that happen afterwards make it plain that Bryn’s friends know what has happened to her and know what she has become. They know that she can infect other Revived with the new nanites in thirty days. They know that she could be forced to consume human flesh.
At the start of book three, nobody knows anything about any of this. Page space is taken up with her waffling about how to tell them, and when she finally does, one of the guys who had pledged to help her manage the nanites in book two is shown shooting her in the face because he’s so scared of her. This particular guy is the genius who usually helps them crack extremely hard problems in a matter of hours, so reversing his support effectively cuts Bryn off from someone who could make what comes next a heck of a lot easier. That’s far too big an error for me to forgive.
I also didn’t like the new “upgraded” versions of Bryn and Riley. Since they’re at the point of being able to take massive amounts of damage without dying permanently, the author puts them through the metaphoric meat grinder for most of the book. Bryn is shot, burned, hit by a truck, beaten, and digs around in her own intestines. It felt like the author just felt free to be as bloody and gory as she wanted, since her character is nearly immortal. It got old fast.
By the novel’s end, the new breed of nanite is being distributed throughout special military units, creating unstoppable super-soldiers. In the eleventh hour, the genius who ran screaming from Bryn suddenly turns up with a machine that will turn off all the nanites all over the world. Of course, since the nanites sustain life in a dead body, that will kill anybody infected with them. But Bryn magically is able to be revived from death as a fully functional person once her nanites die… even though missing shots (which makes for dead nanites) causes her to start rotting almost immediately in earlier books. The realization that Bryn can have children now, despite the impossibility of her even being alive (much less have viable eggs) made my jaw drop.
The rest of the novel is peppered with stupid decisions by the characters and a mad rampage around the country being chased by the bad guys. Eventually, I kept reading only because I wanted to see Jane, the quintessential bad guy, finally get hers. There are still plenty of loose ends flapping around when this novel finally closes, and this is apparently the series’ final book, so I don’t know why things weren’t wrapped up.
I usually hate giving a book a bad review, because I’m aware that I’m criticizing someone’s work, something that they crafted over the course of several months, at least. But I do expect a level of quality to a novel, and massive continuity errors and deus ex machina eleventh-hour bailouts do not equal quality to me. Terminated is the worst entry in this series.