About the Book
Alive since before the Great Collapse, Matthias and Frank are coasting through life as agents for the Noxcorp investigations division when a strange murder jeopardizes nocturnals’ place in the new world order. Polar opposites, the two vampires must work together to find the real killer else face the wrath of the council.
Charles is a warden of the university tasked with recovering one of its students, one of its prisoners, one of its mages. But Sandra is no ordinary mage. Her body defies the laws of physics, and she has been preparing for this moment for her entire life.
Paths cross when the university requests the assistance of Noxcorp. But when the agents discover that Sandra had outside help, a simple fugitive recovery quickly turns complicated, and all four find themselves caught in the middle of a deadly power grab.
All the while, a darker malignancy grows, showing itself only in strange dreams and machinations, waiting for its moment to rise again.
320 pages (kindle)
Published on April 27, 2018
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This is an entry in the SPFBO 2018.
I’m going to admit something to you, dear reader. I was really excited to read this book, and then I saw that it was about vampires, and I had the loudest eyeroll ever (I’m a bit sick of vampires). However, I gave it a go anyway, and guess what? These vampires didn’t bug me as much as I anticipated. In fact, they hardly bothered me at all. I actually kind of liked them.
Integral is a who-done-it story told in a near-future world with a distinct noir thrust. The year is 2029, and the world has undergone some changes. Governments have collapsed, and corporations have taken over the management of countries, people, and basically everything else. Mixed into all of this is the fact that vampires have come out in previous years, so they are a factor in this new civilization.
When some human is murdered, two vampires, Matthias and Frank, are sent by Noxcorp, the face of the ancient vampire counsel, to investigate and see what happened. While they are investigating, a university asks them for help to find one of their escaped mages, Sandra. Soon a power grab enters the works, and these two vampires with very different pasts and temperaments, appear to be in the middle of it all.
As you can probably tell, this book is full of action and intrigue. Each chapter is told as an “episode” which gives the whole thing the vibe of having installments. It also makes sure that each chapter sort of functions as its own mini-story within the overarching story. The downside of this is that the timeline felt a little discordant at times, events felt like they jumped around a little bit. In the end, it worked, but sometimes it felt a little chaotic, and the “short story” feel to some of it might bounce off of some readers.
The who-done-it aspect of the book was very well done, and Thielen doesn’t hide from brutality, violence, or those deaths that tend to catch me off guard. This isn’t a light and fluffy book, but it does feel like something is always happening, and it usually has a dark or even violent edge. Events move fast, and I will say that Thielen was very good at keeping me guessing. Even when I figured out who did what, and why, I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out in the end.
I did feel like some of the pacing was off in this book. There was a long fight scene toward the end that I felt could have been cut. Some events felt like they went on a little too long, while some of the important details felt kind of glossed over. It did take me some time to connect to our two protagonists, which kept me from being instantly interested. The ending was a bit messy, with some logical holes that I couldn’t quite manage to jump through. And I do think that the way this is written, in episodes, with a timeline that feels kind of hard to follow might be off-putting to some readers.
That being said, Integral was a solid noir story that kept me hooked. I really enjoyed the darkness of the whole thing, from the dark feel to the story, to the characters, who really grew on me. There is a lot here to chew on, and it’s the first book in the series, so I expect the others will be even more impressive. I will say that the world and setting were what ended up impressing me the most. The future Thielen wrote was very interesting, and pretty believable.
I don’t typically enjoy noir books that much, but I ended up liking this one despite myself. Yeah, there were issues here, but I enjoy dark books and authors who aren’t afraid to explore the underbelly of society, especially when that happens in a futuristic world.
No, this book isn’t perfect, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.