In this Crichton-esque thriller, a female scientist specializing in ant intelligence is drawn into a nightmarish plot involving swarming drones launching terrorist strikes on U.S. soil—on their own, not as programmed by humans.
To myrmecologist Linda McKinney's dismay, her findings on the social behavior of the murderously territorial weaver ant—Oecophylla longinoda—have become the basis for the technology behind the drones. She is doing field research in Tanzania when her living quarters are bombed and she is abducted—not by the enemy, but by a secret force headed by a rogue special operations soldier called Odin. Her death is faked to protect her from the faceless terrorists and to use her as bait to draw them out. McKinney enters into a frightening limbo existence in which she doesn't know what is happening, where she is or whom to trust. After escaping Odin's group, or thinking she has, she witnesses horrors that convince her he's on the side of good, and she works with him to expose the threat the drones represent. At a time when the military relies increasingly on drone intelligence and firepower in the war on terrorism, this thriller is eerily unsettling, if not quite plausible. Suarez, who established himself as a cyberthriller go-to author with Daemon (2009) and Freedom (2010), feeds his story with just the right amount of techno know-how, taking care not to overwhelm the human dimensions of the story (even if two cyberravens who fly around spying on people are the book's most interesting characters). Those with uneasy feelings about their trackable cellphones will be even more fearful after reading about the uses to which their easily accessible IMEI numbers can be put.
A confident thriller that leaves us wondering not whether its fictional premise will one day become reality, but when.