by Kent Wayne
Series: Echo, Volume 3
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Speculative Fiction
Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
While Crusader Kischan Atriya fights to keep his life and sanity, his mentor Chrysalis Verus undertakes a perilous journey across the wilds of Echo. Their separate paths intertwine in the unlikeliest of places and across all borders, both psychic and physical.
First Sentence: Atriya opened his eyes.
Given the fact that I gave volume 2 of this series a 5-star review, I went into the book with high expectations. I was not disappointed! In fact, this one was even better than volume 2! Before the Prologue, we get a quick recap of what went down in the first two books, which is awesome for those of us who can’t get to the next book in a series right away. We see in this novel that our hero, Atriya is in rough shape from the extra boosts he had to do during the battle in book 2 (a boost is a dose of chemicals that shoots into the brain to enhance his abilities. Read volume 1 for more on that).
Throughout the book, we see Atriya’s limitations, the limitations that make him a mortal human. That’s important — at least to me — because I’ve never been much for heroes that are so ridiculously strong and overpowered that their story is predictable and there’s little room for plot or character development. Those kinds of heroes bore me — and yet somehow I’m a huge fan of Goku from Dragonball Z. But that’s getting off topic…
Something that I have loved about this series from the very beginning is the constant inner conflict that Atriya battles with. He fights as a warrior of the Regime not so much because he believes in their cause, but because he lives and breathes to fight. In a world where there seems to be little hope or purpose, he finds his peace in fighting. And yet he has this empathetic side that often overrides the killing machine part of him, which makes him unsure of what the grander purpose of his efforts contribute to.
In volume 2, I found myself sympathizing with the Dissident fighters and hoping that Atriya would break away from the Regime and join up with the terrorist side. My mind was trying so hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, but in this series — as well as in reality— things are not so black and white. The whole conflict is a big gray area, where you have good intentions and ill intentions alike on both sides— and in some cases, there doesn’t seem to be any clear intention at all aside from just following the protocol and formalities of the culture that Echo’s inhabitants have been raised to see as the norm. It is this blurred line of which side you’re supposed to be cheering for— if any side at all— that has made me fall so madly in love with this series.
Verus was awesome!!!! She’s got this element of mystery to her that clouds what her ultimate goal is. She’s badass without question, and her fight scenes and use of kaia (magic) are spectacular! I can’t wait to learn more about her and her allies in Volume 4! Another addition in characters that I loved was Gribbles the lizard. He’s such a lovable little guy and adds a light-hearted element to the serious and urgent tones of the story. He also plays a key part in the connection between Verus and Atriya, so he can’t just be dismissed as a cute side character inserted as a distraction— Gribbles is anything but!
Atriya’s time undercover as a Harvester was intriguing— from his living conditions to the hopeless conditions of finding work, to the adrenaline and brutality of the fighting pits. And then there’s Kali. Dear sweet heavens, this character needs to come back in volume 4! I want to see some sort of resolution to that arc! Kali is an interesting character, but I don’t want to get too much into it because then I’d just be giving spoilers away. I do hope that she appears in volume 4. I wasn’t fully satisfied with just leaving her where she was left and that was it.
The greatest part about Volume 3 was the ending. We get to visit the moon-city of Ascension and we meet the big guy— the ruler of it all— the one in charge of Echo and Ascension, the Regent. What we learn from the Regent… I just can’t even begin! I can’t give anything away, but damn, I want to really bad! The ending was great, and it gave me a lot of philosophical gems to ponder. Hell, the whole book gave me plenty to ponder, and that is why this book is a 5-star rating, hands down.
As usual, Kent Wayne displays his gift for vivid storytelling and descriptions. He writing makes it easy for me to put myself inside of the world I’m reading about (and also create a kick-ass anime version of it in my head), and that is a talent that isn’t easy to come by. His books need to be on the bestseller shelves, and if he keeps it up, he is going to eventually earn a spot beside those best selling elites— no doubt in my mind.
In closing, I must say I love the first sentence in the book. It is so fitting for the story as a whole. Atriya opened his eyes.
Yeah, okay. There isn’t much to it when you just read it by itself. But I will say this, by the end of the story, his eyes are most definitely opened!
Her appreciation for the Parch was backed by years of training—training that allowed her to embrace all of life; not just the sun-dappled trees, but also the maggots by their roots. Everything has its place, she thought.
When you die—that’s WHEN, and not if—you remember to smile at your killer. Your ruined, smiling face will be your last weapon. It will be your last gift as well, because whoever ends you will know that they have killed someone worth killing. That is how you honor your life.
“Inequality is a fact of life, Crusader. If balance ever occurs, then it’s a fluke that’s destined to collapse. A seesaw only stays level for a brief moment in time. More often than not, it’s tipped to the left or the right.”
…it naturally followed that the only true teacher was existence itself. A student could be guided, advised, nagged…but when it came time to open that coveted door, the one that made light and dark into a wondrous lie, there was only room for a single hand upon the knob.
People needed killing. And when it came right down to it, she was going to enjoy herself. Because sometimes, being human just wasn’t enough.
He knew what it meant to live through a dark string of ironies—teased with hopes that were never fulfilled.
[No. Not all of us are warriors. Some of are nurturers, and others are contemplators. Why? Is every human a warrior?]
[Most like to think so. Or pretend so.]
He emoted puzzlement. [That would make for a boring life. My entire pod has varying degrees of combat training, but without other roles, warriors would lose their value.]
Verus grimaced. [My people used to think that as well; they used to appreciate the strength in subtlety, the beauty in variation. But that was long ago; now we like to see things as right and wrong, black and white, high and low. We’ve even created an inaccessible residence to house our leaders. They do not live with us; they reside on the moon.]
[We are fools, pawns and players…all at once.]
He was tired of being another man’s weapon.
“Let’s say there was peace. Things would be good… for a while, anyway. But eventually, people would find a reason to fight. Or create one. They would destroy the very system that gives them harmony.”