"The Operative", Gerald Brandt's follow-up to the action packed "The Courier" is a disappointment. Uneven and packed with sadistic torture scenes, thi"The Operative", Gerald Brandt's follow-up to the action packed "The Courier" is a disappointment. Uneven and packed with sadistic torture scenes, this novel tries to do to many things. There is a nascent revolution, a revenge plot, a rescue story , an inventor with a super device, and a war between corporations. As readers, we do not need a linear plot but too many story lines muddies the waters making it difficult to latch onto the main characters. In addition, the torture seems gratuitous. This is an okay sequel with a tacked on plot point.
Brandt's world building is diligent. Three Giant multinational corporations SoCal, IBD and Kadokawa control the world. They own countries and the politicians. The people are trapped in giant megacities. The corporations have built ceilings and walls. Humanity lives on levels, the richest live under the open sky on the top level, while the poorest and dregs of society live on the lowest level, with giant globes imitating the sun and painted on clouds. There are ramps between the first levels and relatively open movement, but the top levels are closed off from the top levels. Meanwhile the Corporations know where everyone is because they implant chips into your back so they can track you.
In "The Courier", Jeremy Adams, a high executive in Meridian, a smaller corporation, wanted to start a corporate war, but Kris, a messenger and loose end, stumbled onto his plot when his henchman tried to kill her, and ACE, an anti-corporation group, thwarted the plot. Adams lost his position and power. Meridian got taken over by Kadokawa, Kris got involved with Miller, an ACE operative. Happy ending.
In the "Operative" Kris is at an ACE boot camp learning to be an operative when the camp is attacked. Most of the candidates are killed, Kris and Pat, another trainee, escape, but Miller, who was visiting the camp is captured. Was it one of evil corporations coming to attack ACE because it's a threat to the corporations. NO. It was Jeremy Adams again trying to kill Kris because of her actions in "The Courier", but its more than that, Adams, it seems works actually runs ACE, which unbeknown to most of its dedicated members, is really a front used work against other corporations. Adams, a malicious psycho, tortures Miller repeatedly for fun and games. Miller knows if he stays with Adams, his days are numbered, and tries to escape.
Adams lover William, who, seemingly does not like Adams torturing, but has no backbone to confront Adams, is another high executive in ACE. He wants to kill Kris because she is a threat to ACE.
Meanwhile, Bryon Searls, invented a quantum space drive allowing faster than light travel, but unfortunately, the crew died of some mysterious illness. Now Searls had discovered a cure, but rather than disclose it to Kadokawa, he escapes to a lower level to try to sell his discovery or keep it out of their hands. Kadokawa, however is hunting him.
And in another plot point, Kai, who knows Kris and used to work for ACE, is involved with a revolutionary group, which is trying to start a rebellion against the corporations. Kai, who does not trust ACE, owns a restaurant in level 2 Chinatown, but is also a doctor.
While trying to find Miller, Kris and Pat will be attacked by agents of ACE, and join up with Kai. Will Kris, Kai and Pat rescue Miller and thwart ACE's plans? What will happen with Searls? There seems to be too many stories going on and too much unbelievable developments. Need a doctor, oh have Kai be a doctor. Need guns, oh Kai is involved with a revolutionary group, with guns and contacts. Need a way to the upper level where Miller is held, Kai can help.
Moreover the Searls story line is kind of added on for a third book purpose, weakly tied into the plot of this book.
"The Courier" was a fun read, while "The Operative", not fun at all. One can hope the third book in this series is a better book. ...more