All The King’s Men, by Alex Powell
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: July 27, 2016
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Fox is a mindnet hacker, and works for the mysterious man known only as King. He spends his time uncovering dangerous secrets and releasing them to the public.
But those who cause trouble are bound to attract, and despite their precautions King is taken prisoner by an unknown government. And if Fox is going to save him, he’s going to need help—help that comes from the very last place he expected to find it.
Enemies to Lovers
All The King’s Men started off with a bang.
A vast majority of the book (probably over 95% of it) takes place in Cerebrum, where the characters navigate the “mindnet” (think internet) using the powers of their mind. Obviously, it’s not an easy task to create a complex virtual reality on paper. I understood the concept of this cyber world, where characters could navigate their way through public domains or hack their way into secure sites, hop from virtual place to virtual place via links and create (or recreate) private spaces . But as cool as it was in theory, the author’s descriptive efforts fell short in transporting me to this virtual world. Maybe it was just me, but I wanted more details and background. How do the characters “link in” to Cerebrum? What would “jumping down a link” look like or feel like? At some point I began to realize I could’ve used a bit more depth and scope to the world-building to help me navigate the story, particularly through the high-action scenes.
Speaking of depth and scope, I thought that the mission that the characters embarked on was too simple, the clues too obvious. While I’m no Sherlock Holmes, I do like to be stymied (at least for a little while) if the characters in the book I’m reading are presented with a challenge. I mean, as the blurb implies, we’re talking world class hackers on the run here, so I was definitely expecting more than just a virtual walk in the park.
Not knowing if the book would contain any romantic elements, the connection between Fox and the character Seven was sweet and totally unexpected. Even though he’s barely hinted at in the blurb, Seven was hands down my favorite part about this book. I thought the author did a good job at attempting to bring Seven to life and I enjoyed watching him slowly discover his sense of self. Along those lines, I would have liked to have learned more about Fox as a person, not just his virtual persona or his distant memories. I found it difficult to connect with Fox because I didn’t feel like I knew him as a person at all.
Ultimately, All The King’s Men was an okay read for me, but fell short of capturing my attention. It was good in theory but not in execution. If you’re really into sci-fi, particularly virtual reality, this book might be for you.
Alex Powell is an avid writer and reader of sci-fi and fantasy, but on occasion branches into other genres to keep things interesting. Alex is a genderqueer writer from the wilds of northern Canada who loves exploring other peoples and cultures. Alex is a recent graduate of UNBC with a BA in English, and as a result has an unhealthy obsession with Victorian Gothic literature. Alex has been writing from an early age, but is happy to keep learning to improve on their writing skills. Feedback and comments as well as any questions are appreciated! You can reach Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.