After a mysterious, decades-long lightning storm decimates civilization, most people live in small, hardscrabble groups, far from the ruined cities. Twenty-six-year-old Jackson Bellony is one of these people, living with his father in a cave in the woods, and often hearing drifters’ tales of the Lamians—giant, malevolent half-woman/half-snake beings that the lightning somehow awakened. The Earth’s last remnant of technology is controlled by a group called The Company, which thrives thanks to “wireless energy...harnessed underground in a liquid form.” For unknown reasons, The Company occasionally drops care packages of food and other necessities near Jackson’s home. One day, a Company hovercraft lands, and men in black suits take blood samples from the locals, claiming it’s for a medical test. But after Jackson is kidnapped by Company men, he learns that they’re seeking something called the G factor, which allows people to survive injection with “techno fibers.” This trait, which Jackson has, lets the Company turn him into the perfect weapon against the Lamians. It’s a formulaic tale that’s been told many times: a young, naive hero; fearsome monsters only he can fight; and montages of physical and intellectual training. (The serum not only bulks up Jackson’s muscles, but also lets him absorb information quickly and easily.) Jackson’s immediate love connection with Amber, another injectee, is likewise predictable. Oviatt makes clear from the beginning that the Company has sinister intent, although this first volume doesn’t reveal the extent of the plans. The book does offer unique monsters for the heroes to fight. However, the Lamians have no personality, and could be swapped out for any other invincible foe. The book hews closely to a popular sci-fi formula, but does little to distinguish itself from the pack.
A familiar, by-the-numbers dystopia.