Review -- Control Point: Shadow Ops
Huh. Have this ever happened to you? You finish a book, and after you turned that last page you thought, “Huh. Not sure what I think about that.”
Believe it or not, this doesn’t happen to me very often. Usually I know right away if I love, like, or hate a book. I know if a book is mediocre once I read the final page. I know if it has cemented itself on my “Best of the Year” list. With Myke Cole‘s debut novel, CONTROL POINT: SHADOW OPS (Amazon)… I just don’t know. Hopefully I come to a decision by the end of the review, otherwise this will get awkward.
SHADOW OPS puts the reader in the shoes of Oscar Britton. He’s a military man in a world right in the thick of things going crazy. People are developing powers, and most of the time they have no idea how to control those powers. Things go quickly out of control, and those individuals often do terrible things. This is put on display in the opening scene, where a couple of teens with new powers are taking out all of their confused aggression on their High School.
It’s a riveting scene. The confusion of feeling the main character has feels absolutely perfect. It sets up a style of writing that I was ready and willing devour. Britton then, obviously, develops powers of his own and becomes the hunted… for a few pages. Most of the story takes place with Britton working as a military contractor and learning how to use his power.
The world itself is well done. The reactions of the government aren’t surprising in the least. His reactions as a government contractor are on par with what I see in that business every day. It’s realistic. The magical world/realm/area (The Source) is pretty slick. It’s a war-zone, and it feels like it was written by a guy who has experienced this sort of thing.
Sounds great right? I totally agree. But then I started having issues with things.
The main character, Britton. Teenage girls flip-flop less than his character, including the teenage girl in his unit. I understand that a soldier can feel conflicted. I’ve seen that with many of the soldiers I know personally. But being conflicted and having doubts doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bi-polar with your reactions to EVERYTHING. The lack of consistency in Britton was one of the things that bothered me most about this book. To me, this wasn’t a nit-pick. This was a major issue. He would do stupid, stupid things that weren’t in character unless he had multiple personalities.
Many of the side characters would do the same thing. One minute I’m nodding my head thinking, “Right on, Myke. Your characters are learning and progressing. Awesome.” Then the next minute the “magic reset button” has been pushed, and they are back to square one.
My biggest issue was with the ending. A betrayal is totally not foreshadowed. Oh sure, I can see where the author was trying to be all, “Hey there is more to this person than meets the eye.” But that wasn’t foreshadowing the betrayal. It was almost comical when the traitor is revealed. I kept imagining a Saturday morning cartoon villain rubbing his hands together while saying, “Mwahahahahahha! You never saw it coming! Mwahahaha!” It bugged me. And I can’t help but think there was some ability-cheating at the end too. And in the end, the villains just seemed… impotent.
Now, I feel a little bad about all the negative. It super, super bothered me. So, you probably wonder why I kept reading. Other than the fact that I am a professional, and I always read a novel from start to finish, yeah, there were some things that were just excellent.
Again, the world is awesome. The introduction of powers is awesome. The government trying to regulate their use was perfect. The powers themselves are awesome and fairly familiar. The goblins are great. The real kicker for me was the action. It was fabulous. Chaotic. Violent. There were little “missions” that Britton’s team goes on that are fantastic.
This is a debut novel that feels like a debut novel. There are major issues, but there are enough good things that kept me interested. I think some more feedback could make Cole’s next novel pretty good. The real question is, do I think Myke Cole can fix the problems? Yeah, I think so. I think taking a very close look at character motivations and making sure they are consistent would have automatically fixed a lot of my problems with book 1. He’s also surrounded by a good group of authors who can/should be able to help him avoid this mistakes in the next volume.
So, last question: will I read the sequel?
Without a doubt. No hesitation. I’ll buy it happily (or beg Ace for the ARC). There is a huge amount of potential here. The more I think about CONTROL POINT: SHADOW OPS, and as I write this review, the more firmly the book lands at my line of “Mediocre” and “Like”, falling on the “Like” side of that line.
If you are a fan of Military Thrillers, Urban Fantasy and Larry Correia-like novels, you will likely enjoy Myke Cole’s debut.
- Recommended Age: 16+
- Language: It's full of swearing military people in high-stress situations. Yup, lots of swearing.
- Violence: Tons, and well described
- Sex: None
Note: Go to Cole’s website: http://mykecole.com/. That background art is EXACTLY what makes me like the theme and feel of the novel. Pure, freaking awesome.