Gemini Cell by Myke Cole
Myke Cole, author of contemporary military fantasy infused with a heavy deal of magic, struck again, this time with the beginning for a new series set in the same universe as his Shadow Ops series. Called by the same name, but set at the beginning of the reawakening of magic in the world, Jim Schweitzer, a Seal, replaces Oscar Britton as the protagonist. It’s somewhat of a prequel to his successful series and hits the same pressure points as his other series starting with Control Point.
It’s contemporary military fiction written by a military guy for military guys or anyone interested in the workings of US special forces. As someone who doesn’t care much about this, I’m certainly not the main target audience. I could enjoy the book nonetheless, even though the protagonists fixation on his training and his burning patriotism became a bit much over time. I have nothing against hearing him describe himself as an artist in what he does, or stress his professionalism, but it gets old when that’s repeated again and again.
After a successful operation (gunning down apparently hundreds of “terrorists”), the danger follows Jim home. He gets raised from the dead near instantly after his violent demise, now sharing his body with a Djinn, a bloodthirsty creature full of rage and violence that gives him strength beyond the means of any human. Our protagonist becomes effectively an undying killing machine in the service of a shady part of the US government. That he doesn’t question these people and what they have him do is a minor annoyance. As is that he’s content with what the organization tells him in regard to his family. Someone as fixated on his wife as much as him (enough to push his child into a small corner of his mind apparently) would need more than just getting told what happened to them, I believe.
But I digress.
Most of the book is a struggle between man and Djinn for control of their shared body. The Djinn, a thousand-year-old creature, has the upper hand and makes Jim do unspeakable things. In the end, there stands the question of what the organization actually is, what their goal is, the mystery of his own death, and much more. The book doesn’t stint with things that don’t seem to fit right, a sting in your mind while you read, bugging you to read ever onward, to figure out what the hell is going on.
My main issue with the book, despite it being very heavy on the military side with its US seal protagonist, was that this book’s main emotional part gets cut off immediately. Instead of using these emotions – the rage and denial – the author so expertly evokes in the reader, these emotions get destroyed near instantly again, leaving only a hollow behind that doesn’t get filled throughout the book. Instead of riding this emotional wave, the reader instantly gets pulled down into the ice-cold water again, feeling cheated.
Concluding: It’s a book for lovers of Myke Cole’s other books. I liked Control Point well enough (even though I had some issues especially with the ending), but I think Gemini Cell puts on too much military makeup and rehashes the same points again and again. It spells the win of the machine against the monster time and again. It’s a book for lovers of contemporary (US) military and while I’m not an expert in this regard, I believe the author does a very good job of portraying the expertise of these people. Jim Schweitzer makes killing an art. On a mission is where he feels fulfilled and his infatuation for his job is only barely rivaled by the need for his wife. And I’m purposely not saying “for his family” here, even though his inferiority complex towards his brother can be seen as some sort of twisted love. If you can deal with this straightforward simple-mindedness, this might be just the book for you.