THE WHISPER OF STARS by Nick Jones

THE WHISPER OF STARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Jones’ debut sci-fi thriller, a program to save the world from overpopulation and climate change may have a sinister ulterior motive.

In the late 21st century, the government-sanctioned Hibernation Program has been forcing many peopleinto hibernation at different times in a bid to make the world more habitable. Sgt. Jennifer Logan of the Duality Division, which enforces Hibernation and polices illegal cloning and mind-replications, gets harrowing news from a co-worker that the government may be using Hibernation to monitor people’s thoughts. The fact that she knows this puts a target on her back, so she teams up with Nathan, a schoolteacher who underwent an unlawful “body swap” to covertly search for his wife’s murderer; and Katherine O’Brien, an investigative journalist looking into the conspiracy of Hibernation. Jen also gets help from an unlikely source—her father, who died more than 30 years ago and left behind a device, the Histeridae, that may help her find a connection between the government and the Baden Corporation, an evil conglomerate. The novel masterfully blends espionage with ultra-cool technology; for example, it opens with Jen trailing a woman while conversing telepathically, her thoughts transferred to text at MI5 headquarters. But it more often focuses on action, as in a frenzied sequence in which Jen, on a Yamaha EZR electric hybrid bike, flees drones and a “heli-droid” with shots “whistling past” her. Jones keeps the story grounded by ensuring that some of the tech has alarming side effects; mind-replication, for example, can cause “splintering,” in which memories from a body’s original owner can disturb its new mind. The Histeridae gives Jen a distinct advantage, but the story’s final act forces her and Nathan to employ a refreshing old-school approach: They brave the blistering cold in Russia to find evidence implicating Baden, using outmoded tech to avoid detection. The story’s open ending isn’t a cliffhanger, but leaves room for a second installment.

An action-packed sci-fi story that delivers on its promising concept.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2014
Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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