Be careful what you wish for is the message at the heart of this techno-thriller.
In this second installment of Levin’s (Not So Dead, 2017) series, technologist Sam Sunborn is “living” in the virtual world he shares with his partner, Frank Einstein, where their essences have been residing since both were killed by terrorists. But Sam has to find a way to assume a physical form after his son, Evan, is kidnapped by henchmen of The Cub, the younger brother of a terrorist killed in the series’ first volume. That’s because The Cub has nefarious plans to attack the United States, and he needs some way to take Sam and Frank out of the picture. So Sam and two associates use an untested technique to place his consciousness inside the body of Juan Valiente, a drugged inmate at a Mexican asylum. The problem is that Juan’s consciousness is also still inside his body. They have to find a way to coexist: “We’ll figure this out.…I’ve made some mistakes and this might be one of the bigger ones, but for now we’re in this together,” Sam asserts. Sam/Juan works with Department of Homeland Security agents Rich Little and Michelle Hadar to rescue Evan and determine and disrupt The Cub’s plan, which involves sabotaging the American food supply. The most terrifying part of Levin’s narrative is that most of the science he employs is now feasible, other than shifting people’s essences in and out of a virtual world. But when the action hums like it does here, readers won’t stop too long to ponder the technology. Sam and his allies have to play catch-up with The Cub, who has the advantage of having a hacker inside the DHS. Unfortunately, Sam moves a lot slower in his new body. Fresh allies are introduced while others are lost. This novel reads much shorter than it is, as the author keeps his ample cast of characters on the run trying to prevent doomsday. This is another winner for Levin that admirably balances the pluses and minuses of scientific advances in the service of good and evil.
A gripping tale that will leave readers wondering what death-defying feat the hero will perform in the next series entry.