The first in an exciting new sci-fi series that's being described as Blade Runner meets X-Men.
Two hundred and fifty years after the world was nearly wiped out by nuclear war, what's left of society fights over the scraps of the Earth as the rich and powerful plan to ascend in secret to another planet. But the deadly new breed of humanity that the rulers have enslaved to protect their interests are about to change everything.
K.M. Ruiz's Mind Storm is the rip-roaring tale of Threnody Corwin, a psion with the ability to channel electricity like lightning through anything she touches. As a soldier-slave for the human government, Threnody is recruited by an unknown enemy: the scion of Earth's most powerful (and supposedly human) family, the Serca Syndicate. But Lucas Serca is far from human and he intends to make Threnody and her fellow psions meet their destiny, no matter how many people he has to kill to do it.
Mind Storm is the first of two books chronicling the fight for survival by the psions and other gene-trash humans, before they're killed by the corrupt world government, or left to die on a crumbling Earth.
If there's one word that's overused by reviewers of sci-fi oriented fiction it has to be the word "accessible," but it's an almost necessary evil for those of us who are scientifically illiterate. That said, please don't think I mean to imply that "Mind Storm" is lacking in complexity because I would include the word accessible in its description-- many of my favorite books, including "Old Man's War," share that quality and I consider it a mark of a good author to take intricate ideas and present them in a way that appeals to a wide array of readers and K.M. Ruiz does exactly that in "Mind Storm."
The official synopsis of "Mind Storm" references "Blade Runner" and "X-Men" and it's fair to say that the story has elements that may borrow, just a little bit, from both stories. But "Mind Storm" leaves behind most similarities pretty quickly as it establishes its own framework. The psions in Ruiz's world aren't mutants in the same sense as the X-Men, though their powers are a result of mutations that occur after a nuclear war that devastates the planet. The psions are integrated, by force of a brain implant with the power to kill, into the Stryker Syndicate and required to protect and fight for a human majority that would wipe out all the psions if they weren't so useful. Their powers run the gamut of telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy, empathy and precognition-- or a combination of two or more powers (though this is rare) but their powers are dangerous and generally limit the lifespan of a psion to half that of a normal human.
Initially I was afraid that the characterizations in "Mind Storm" were going to be somewhat stereotypical as some of the early scenes with members of the Serca family are a bit heavy-handed in portraying them as power hungry, heartless and needlessly cruel. But when Lucas Serca enters the story the character development hits its stride and his interactions with Threnody and the other Strykers bring the depth the early chapters were lacking and by the time I was halfway through the book I was hooked.
Ruiz does an excellent job of layering the story by telling it from the viewpoint of several characters including a mysterious child named Aisling whose precognition seems to be the main force behind Lucas' actions. Hints are dropped along the way but the main motivations of the Serca family aren't revealed until later in the book and the action ramps up to keep pace with each revelation. The technology is well thought out and lends itself to some great clashes between Threnody and her group of Strykers and the Serca Warhounds. There were times when I wondered if it would be possible for someone to (theoretically) be powerful enough to shear the wings off a jet with the power of their mind, but it's a small consideration when weighed against the tightly woven plotting that keeps the suspense up all the way to the end of the book.
Reading "Mind Storm" made me remember how much I enjoy a good sci-fi novel. Too often I convince myself that fantasy is easier to follow than science fiction, but "Mind Storm" shows that convincing tech is often better than fuzzy magic when it comes to creating realistic super-powered characters. "Mind Storm" does finish with a bit of a cliff-hanger ending; thankfully the second half of Ruiz's duology Terminal Point has already been released and I can't wait to see how the story ends.
4 out of 5 stars