A woman from the far future makes a life in the 21st century and rescues a kidnapped friend in this sci-fi sequel.
Levin’s (30th Century: Escape: General Audience Edition, 2018, etc.) previous novel revealed that Syndos—genetically enhanced human beings—have become the majority by the 30th century, and that they’re plotting the extinction of ordinary humans, or Naturals. To save humanity, the Naturals’ Secret Society sends a team, led by Capt. Jennifer Hero, back in time on a mission to correct the lack of empathy in Syndos’ DNA. After some mishaps, the team eventually succeeds. Jennifer, who has married Marty Zitonick in the 21st century, decides to stay in the past. She reveals her secret mission to her husband, giving him a novel that she wrote, which explains her background, how she came to work for the Secret Society, and her relationship with Zexton Ho, the genius inventor of time travel. Jennifer earns a doctorate in marine science, teaches at the University of Hawaii, and eventually starts a family with Marty, who ambitiously plans to study sustainable resource extraction in the Pacific. When a friend is kidnapped by terrorists, Jennifer helps to rescue her but suffers a traumatic experience. With therapy and love, though, she becomes truly happy. Levin offers up some complex concepts in this novel, which will particularly appeal to science-minded readers. The book does ramble, though; nearly half of it consists of Jennifer’s roman à clef, which bears little relationship to Marty’s big project or the kidnapping trauma plot. Overall, the dialogue feels stilted and overuses certain phrases, such as “my love,” and “roger that.” The novel’s sex scenes (involving three-, four-, and fivesomes) can also be clumsy: “ ‘Does anyone want a cappuccino, or would you prefer some hot swinging in our big king-size bed first?’ [Jennifer] asked. ‘Roger that, I prefer the swinging,’ Mike replied.” Many readers will also be put off by the novel’s description of a gang rape—and by the fact the victim is portrayed as getting pleasure from it.
A tale with strong scientific ideas, hampered by weak prose.