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Rick H. Bomar
5.0 out of 5 starsGreat read!
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsA disturbing fictional portrayal of a nation at risk
Reviewed in the United States on October 18, 2019
This review is based on an ARC of China Girl, but I have pre-ordered the ebook as my commitment to getting out a strong review for a writer whose work I thoroughly appreciate.
Sarah, Lopez, and Angel continue to set the pages on fire in this, Intel 1 #6. It generally is a good idea to have read all the books in a series in order, but Stebbins provides a satisfactory stopping point at the end of each one, and references to previous events and characters are given – sometimes indirectly – but within the context of the novel currently being read. China Girl (and as did Androcide) will certainly polarize readers into two camps: those who approve of the Presidency of Donald Trump, and those who have deep concerns about the future of the United States of America as recent events in American politics in particular, and American culture in general seem to be raising red flags. I am a Canadian, with biases coloured by what I experience through Canadian media. Erec Stebbins is American, and in the Content Guide and Afterword of the novel, explains how his thinking has been affected over the past 3 – 4 years, and how this has led to his narrative of a near future that, in his own words, “is extreme”. As a writer, he uses his creation of a fictional world to reflect real world events. He is not trying to put one over on the readers. He is exploring what he knows and feels through his writing. I started off with the Kindle box set of Intel 1 (often found to be available at a reduced price – which is $2.99 for Kindle at the time of this writing) and was captivated by the storyline. Androcide felt as if there was a progression to an over-the-top view of the unflinching commitment of the three characters mentioned above, and four more very strong individuals (totaling four females to three males), to defending the USA from enemies domestic and foreign. There are scenes of horrific violence in Androcide and in China Girl. The violence is not glorified in any way. It is integral to the narrative and fuels the level of suspense, and the conflicts that take place in the novel. But while all of the characters are of flesh and blood, some of them have a “larger than life” presence, which is somewhat balanced by the flaws within each of their lives that affect what they are willing to do, and what the consequences will be to the psyches of each one of them. Not all of Erec Stebbins’ books are so politically provocative. But all of them show the author to be a creative and effective world builder for his stories, and his characters are as realistically drawn as any other author I have read in the science fiction and thriller genres.
4.0 out of 5 starsDeep Dive Into Politics - Be Prepared
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2020
This fictionalized reality novel is brilliantly and expressively written. Book 6 of a series, I read it as a standalone and it didn't seem to be a problem, although I always prefer to read series straight through and would advise if you have time to do so. The author gives a Content Guide that reads in part, "This novel contains depictions and references to events and ideas that some will find disturbing, including, but not limited to, sexual assault, battery, murder, imprisonment, captivity, severe illness, pain, fear, medical procedures, torture, and war. .... Readers are asked to prepare accordingly." As a reader I would say forewarned is forearmed because it does just that. Be ready. All that said, a good read if the subject matter appeals to you.
I gave this honest voluntary review after being given a free copy of the book with no monetary compensation.
Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2019
China Girl is somewhat a continuation of the previous book in the series, Androcide. It begins with two rouge INTEL 1 characters, former CIA operative Sara Houston, and former priest Francisco Lopez, behaving like domestic terrorist within a group known as El Marcado, whose goal is to destroy roads and bridges that are used to transport illegal immigrants across the border back into Mexico. In their intent to help immigrants, they come across some disturbing findings which forces them to seek help from their former employer INTEL 1. Additionally, two characters that made their debut in Androcide, undercover detective Grace Gone, and disgraced former detective Tyrell Sacker, also return in China Girl. Grace Gone is an interesting character in that she is a bit of a geek with a sixth sense that things are amiss. In China Girl, Gone begins investigating some suspicious government contracting which eventually leads to something too big for her to handle which ultimately requires the help from the folks at INTEL 1.
I have mixed feelings about China Girl. On one side, I felt that the storyline was too predictable and I knew pretty much from the beginning on how it was going to end. I also felt that with our overwhelming political environment these days, using a fictional version of our recent administration was something that, right now, I just didn’t want to deal with it. I applaud authors that take real world issues, such as climate change and emerging technologies, and incorporate it into fictional scenarios that enlightens to possible outcomes if we, as a society, don’t deal with these problems. But right now, the constant barrage in the news on our political climate, doesn’t really make me want to also have to confront it in my fictional readings. Perhaps at another time, but not right now. On the positive side, I enjoyed reading about the exploits of Grace Gone and Tyrell Sacker and hope that these characters return to future additions to the series. So with this, I give China Girl a so-so score.
This book caps the Intel 1 series with heart-pounding suspense and surprises from start to finish. It is the sixth book in the Intel 1 series, and I would definitely recommend you read the others in order before reading this one. The book can stand by itself, but there is so much more to understand based on the history. Hidden Gems gifted me the complete set of books and I read them all. I binge read the books one after another, and I ended up an emotional wreck. I will be posting reviews on the other books in this series. They all have brilliant writing, interesting and realistic characters, and highly imaginative plots. In this final book, Intel 1 is working for a president that is a live version of Donald Trump. I fear this book is an omen of where we are headed. This series is the best set of books I have read to date.