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MJ-12: Shadows

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It's 1949, and the Cold War is heating up across the world. Operating in the shadows, the Variants―once ordinary US citizens, but now imbued with strange paranormal abilities and corralled into covert service by the government’s top secret MAJESTIC-12 program―find themselves on the front lines of an international crisis.

In Syria, Variant agents have been sent to support a coup by a pro-American army officer. In Washington, a shocking suicide has them fighting for their very freedom. And at Area 51, the operation’s headquarters, the strange interspatial phenomenon which originally granted Variants their abilities has yielded disturbing discoveries.

All the while, dangerous figures flit among the shadows, and it’s unclear whether they are threatening to expose the Variants for what they are . . . or completely destroy them. Are they working for the Soviet Union, or something far worse?

344 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 5, 2017

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About the author

Michael J. Martinez

13 books119 followers
I’m a father and writer living the dream in the Golden State. I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a professional writer and journalist, including stints at The Associated Press and ABCNEWS.com. After telling other people’s stories for the bulk of my career, I’m happy that I can now be telling a few of my own creation.

When not being a parent or writer, I enjoy beer and homebrewing, cooking and eating, the outdoors and travel.

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5 stars
38 (39%)
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40 (41%)
3 stars
17 (17%)
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1 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
466 reviews115 followers
January 21, 2019
The powers these characters have Enhance (capitalized on purpose) the story, they are not the reason for it. We get to see and experience human responses to these gifts and while everyone responds in a different manner, those responses do evolve over the course of the story. While watching the recent Suicide Squad movie, which I ended up disliking immensely, I was bored stiff at the script which seemed to have specific scenes written for something each of the characters specialized in. I thought it was lazy writing and was very disjointed, it took me out of the story. Not so with this series. I was again impressed with the maturity and overall cohesiveness Mr. Martinez brings in not only plot but characterization as well. The first one was definitely an origin story so there was much more time spent with each individual, but the characters in no way take a back seat in this second, more action driven book. Realistic people caught in frightening situations acting how I imagine people, even with "super-powers" would act. They get scared, they get nervous, they get excited, they feel lonely and isolated and it all fits in with the overall cold war 'Merica versus the Commies plot. Great writing and great characters make this a stand-out series, IMO.
Profile Image for Beth Cato.
Author 109 books538 followers
June 16, 2017
This is a rare, wonderful instance of the second book being better than the (very awesome) first. Martinez masterfully develops his Cold War 1949 with superpowered American "Variants" facing off against like-gifted Soviet agents on the world stage. He doesn't need a lot of time for set-up; the book zooms from page one. I really appreciated his exploration of politics and settings of that time period that I am ignorant of--particularly Syria. Beneath all of action and political suspense, there is the underlying question of how the Variants gained their powers... and that plot develops in some intriguing ways right at the end. I'm very anxious to see where the series goes from here!
Profile Image for D. Palmer.
Author 4 books60 followers
September 8, 2017
Just a blast from start to finish. Spy-versus-spy action, superpowers creative enough to headline a graphic novel series, and political maneuvering both dramatic and realistic. The research and attention to detail is palpable as Martinez skillfully intercalates his Variants into the DNA of the Cold War alongside real historical figures and events.
Profile Image for Michael.
300 reviews17 followers
July 30, 2017
ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

MJ-12: Shadows improves on the foundations laid out in MJ-12: Inception in every way and ultimately ends up being even better than the first book was. The characters are developed in ways that are emotionally true to who they are and narratively interesting and relevant, the plot is expanded in ways that are both surprising and completely logical, and the alternate history elements are managed with continued grace and knowledge. MJ-12: Shadows is an excellent book in every way you look at it. It's gripping, entertaining, and suspenseful. Martinez expertly juggles the demands of the mysteries, the action scenes, and the character moments of the novel. No single element outweighs another, and it all coalesces into a sensible, enjoyable whole. The characters are fleshed out and relatable. It's well researched, well paced, and well written. It feels like the logical follow up to the first novel while also taking the series into new and interesting directions. If you enjoyed the first novel, you'll definitely enjoy this one, and you'll find yourself eagerly awaiting the publication of the third novel (hopefully there's a third novel! There's still so much left unexplored). Michael J. Martinez is definitely an author that everybody should be watching. His books may seem to target a niche audience, but he does a great job at bridging the gaps between genres. This is a spy novel, a superhero novel, an action thriller, a mystery, and an engaging examination of humans thrust into dangerous positions. I can't recommend it enough.

(Full review at my blog)
266 reviews
September 8, 2019
This sequel - part of a trilogy but I'm hoping for more - follows the United States' secret project to train their superhumans - called Variants - in the beginning of the Cold War. Several of them are sent to Syria to assist in setting up a West-friendly government and keep the Soviets from establishing a base in the Mediterranean. Their mission is complicated by the arrival of Soviet versions of Variants and a plan to kidnap the Americans and take them back to Russia. There is also trouble brewing at Area 51, the secret base for Variants, where the combination of a troubled Variant and a former Nazi scientist could put the whole program in jeopardy.

The book does a great job of mixing actual historical figures such as Truman with the intrigue of both the domestic and the foreign stories of the Variants. With the new television show Project Blue Book, this series is another really good X-Files style set at the beginning of the Cold War. I would recommend reading the first book Inception before digging into this one, and highly recommend this series.
Profile Image for Dare Talvitie.
Author 4 books8 followers
April 12, 2022
As I'd been hoping, the second book had a faster pace, so I ended up liking it a lot more than the first. Superhuman spies, smart and capable yet politically slightly naive, is a delicious premise, and the story has some nasty turns that had me giggling. Not as relentlessly bleak as Wild Cards, yet by no means an optimistic romp where everything turns out okay for everyone, this was just the right story at the right time for me.
February 4, 2020
The story and the action really ramp up in #2 of this series. It also has the feel of the 2nd act of a trilogy. Once I became committed to the various characters, the book was an easy read. Enjoy the intermittent government documents in the story. Such a nice touch knowing the origins of The Majestic-12 conspiracy theory. Not bad stuff, Maynard.
609 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2017

Hello, the first book was great but I think the second book may have been a little bit better. Hard to believe, I know, but I tell you for true. Damn fine stuff. Thanks. Where's the next Damn book.
Profile Image for Alison.
175 reviews
August 12, 2018
Very enjoyable sequel to the first book. Lots of political intrigue and interesting new Variants, and the Variants from the first book are more comfortable in their powers. Looking forward to the next book!
Profile Image for Susan.
986 reviews3 followers
January 24, 2018
Love this series. I really enjoy how he blends the Variants and real historical characters. Excellent pace and plot. More, please!
Profile Image for Robert.
100 reviews4 followers
September 5, 2017
MJ-12 Shadows review
In the first MJ-12 book, Michael J Martinez introduced us to a post-World War II world where humans
with super-human abilities were starting to emerge. A number of these Variants were recruited by the
US government to help out in the Cold War era with missions of spying and espionage.
In MJ-12: Shadows, those Variants are back as well as a few new ones.
One thing Martinez does well is blend the historical and the fantastical together nearly seamlessly.
The way the fictional Variants interact with historical figures is well handled. Once again, the use of
powers is understated to focus more on the characters themselves. That is, up until the end…
The mystery of how and why the Variants got their powers is also expanded on. But not nearly enough
to let you wait patiently for the third book.
Martinez has proven once again that alternate history is clearly where he belongs.
I eagerly await the third book in the series.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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