Electra Kittner uses her superior intellect to help the president of 22nd-century America combat a virus and terrorists in the continuation of Ratza’s (The Girl with the Lightning Brain, 2018) sci-fi series.
Twenty-one-year-old Electra is the sole survivor of a helicopter crash. As part of a secret operation in the U.S., the helicopter had been transporting individuals with data on the Techno-Plague virus, which triggers rapid onset of dementia. Though the crash severely injures Electra and causes amnesia, she gradually regains her faculties—but she won’t let everyone know how much has come back. Years ago, lightning struck her pregnant mother, giving Electra her name and “lightning brain” (superior intelligence and strength as well as T-Plague immunity), and she’s long suppressed her skills for fear of others’ unfavorable response. When the Guardian Party overthrows the current administration, Jared Gardner is the new U.S. President. Electra, whose leaks on T-Plague projects at the National Institute of Health (where she was employed) helped secure Jared’s current position, becomes his covert adviser and speechwriter. This affords her some control to find a T-Plague vaccine and thwart terrorists intent on deploying the virus as a weapon. Meanwhile, physical assaults from terrorists unleash her “Monster”—her often brutal retaliation. Ratza’s follow-up is an improvement over the series’ first now that the lead is evolving. For example, Electra struggles to feel empathy, which adds vulnerability to a character with seemingly indestructible brainpower and strength. She also learns more about her late parents courtesy of relatives she meets for the first time. Despite copious discussions on the T-Plague or terrorist activities, the story has a steady pace and frequently showcases Electra’s physical aptitude (“She sidestepped the thrust, using his arm for leverage and swinging him three hundred and sixty degrees, then throwing him down the stairs”). The ending offers resolution for at least one subplot and a fantastic cliffhanger that will leave readers yearning for the next book.
Amped action and layered characters enhance this commendable second installment.