Shadow Ops – Myke Cole

About the book
Army Officer.Fugitive. Sorcerer. 

Across the country and in every nation, peopleare waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms,raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze. 

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it.A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, hismission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests arare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from governmentagent to public enemy number one. 

The SOC knows how to handle this kind ofsituation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadowworld, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s everknown, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

400 pages (paperback)
Published on: January 31, 2012
Published by: Ace
Author’s webpage
This bookwas sent as an ARC by the author.
Control Point is an incredibly talkedabout book, and it hasn’t even been released yet. It’s the kind of urbanfantasy that isn’t found on shelves nearly often enough and because of thatit’s attracting a lot of much deserved attention. Control Point isn’t about tattooed women who fall hopelessly inlove with vampires while investigating a crime. It’s about inner and outerconflict as well as duty and these deeper themes are nothing short ofcaptivating.
Control Point is heavily steeped inmilitary tactics. Usually books that center heavily on military themes don’tappeal much to me. Control Point isdifferent, and the reason why is because of the author himself. There issomething quite surreal and captivating about reading a book written by someonewho has first hand experience with his main themes and thus, understands themon a deeper, more intimate level. It’s obvious that Cole isn’t writing thisfrom a well-researched perspective. He lived it, and that brings a level ofrealism to the happenings that couldn’t be achieved by mere research alone.
Perhapsit’s this realism that makes so many scenes in the book pop. For instance, thebook opens with an altercation that takes place in a high school. While thismay seem like familiar territory, Cole twists it into something uniquely his,and it’s almost haunting due to the “what ifs” that readers will inevitablymull over. That’s something that can be felt throughout the book. Control Point takes place in a world of“what ifs.” What if humanity did evolve enough to gain special abilities? Howwould the government deal with it? How would people react to it? The openingscene is haunting because the reader is almost slapped in the face with all ofthese questions while they wrangle with the idea of the military falling uponteenagers who have special abilities.
Then,Cole ups the ante when the protagonist, military man Oscar Britton discovers hehas a forbidden ability of his own. Britton is forced to reevaluate his placein the military. Events transpire, and Britton ends up in the Shadow Ops, whichtakes him somewhere else entirely. This is where the book gets reallyinteresting, as readers are exposed to something beyond urban fantasy and enterinto a realm something else entirely while the protagonist battles with othersagainst another, more looming threat.
OscarBritton is a fascinating protagonist to follow through the book. He suffersfrom an inner struggle regarding orders from a government he believes in andhis own moral code. In this sense he’s utterly human, and gives the averagereader fascinating insight into the personal struggles many individuals inmilitary bodies across the world probably face in silence at some point intheir career. Further, Cole fills his book with strong supporting charactersthat offer unique insights into the life of various military personnel.
Whilethe characters were fascinating, this is also where my only real complaint withthe book lies. I never felt incredibly attached to any of the characters. Whiletheir thoughts and the events they take part in are fascinating, there is a wedgebetween the reader and the protagonist that was never quite pushed aside. Control Point focuses so much on actionand activity that the few attempts there are to give background regardingBritton, or show that he’s a man outside of the military as well as in it, areoverwhelmed by everything else that happens. Further, some of his reactions tosome of the events that take place are almost nonexistent. For example, whensomething traumatic happens to his father, the author makes a point to say thatBritton is shocked and upset, and while this event does serve as a catalyst forother events, I never really feel it. Then the plot moves along so quickly thatthe event seems to be almost swept under the rug before I felt that Britton hadany chance to deal with it in a way that the average human would. Situationslike this really caused a divide between the characters and myself.
Theplot really is filled with nonstop, quick moving, edge-of-your-seat action.However, I found the subtler, personal struggles more interesting than thein-your-face action. Don’t get me wrong, that was incredibly well done, andit’s where Cole’s personal experience with the armed forces really shinesthrough. However, the struggle of Britton to discover where his personal dutytoward a government he believes in but questions ends, and where that leaveshim as an honorable man is really where the book shines and that’s the stuffmany readers may overlook in favor of the more in-your-face military tactics.It’s the deeper layers of the book that really act as the centerpiece aboutwhich all other events turn and these are the layers that readers will have todig for, and many will miss.
It’sthe fact that many may overlook these deeper questions and struggles forpersonal meaning that makes the book so successful. Control Point works on multiple levels. Readers looking for a fastpaced, action oriented book will love it for those aspects of it, without beingoverwhelmed with the deeper stuff. Readers who enjoy something deeper and alittle more personal will love the personal struggle of Britton while he triesto reorient himself and his moral code to a world gone mad, unpredictable andabsolutely gray.
Iusually read an author’s first book in a pretty forgiving manner. A first bookis usually the least polished of all of an author’s books. There are more mistakes andhiccups, but not here. Barring the one complaint I listed above, Control Point reads like a book writtenby a man who has already written and published ten books. It’s fast paced andaction packed, but also deep and riveting, filled with the personal strugglesof a man forced into a situation which makes him question his life and thecareer which gave him so much purpose. This is a book that will attract alot of attention and deservedly so. Myke Cole is an author to watch and Control Point is an incredibly strongstart to an amazingly promising career.

4 Responses

  • Paul Weimer

    Thanks, Sarah.

    The book is indeed being talked about all over, and I'm extremely curious about the book. I liked the sample Myke posted, and want to read it more…

  • Weirdmage

    Sounds like this is a book I'd enjoy. Have put it on my "to buy" list.

  • Scott

    I need to read this. Justin had good things to say about it and now so do you.

    This is a must-read for me.

  • redhead

    I'm so happy you reviewed this. I was a little worried, Military SF doesn't tend to do much for me either, but it looks like there are many more elements to the book than just "military action". I think I'll give it a try!

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