INTRODUCTION – 5/5
Beyond Blue Eyes begins with a covert operation involving the cyborg Nephilim and her allies as they take down a group of terrorists situated beyond Olympia. These people went off the grid and have tried to go back to humanity’s roots; thus, they stand as a threat to the notion that people need Olympia to survive. These efforts to go off the grid are quickly shown to be fruitless as the ruthless efficiency of the Blue Death sweeps through the camp leaving very few survivors. The only ones remaining by the end are children that are then moulded into cybernetic killers like Nephilim. While a little video gaming in its execution, this opening is very strong. It establishes how efficient our main character is and that she is one of many with a shared network to keep them working at their best. There’s one part where the POV changes to that of someone in the camp and you get this short wonderful description of how others perceive the Blue Death;
And to top it off, the man is ruthlessly dispatched with the Blue Death’s leader mocking him afterwards. The one thing the opening does well is that establishes what to expect from each character while also setting Nephilim up via EMP to undergo her own transformation into a freer person.
PLOT – 4/5
The plot is more so Nephilim becoming freer and seeing Olympia for what it is. And around the midpoint, you are introduced to a group aiming to bring down the city and those who run it. However, what I like about this plot is that it mirrors a lot of what we see in 1984 and Animal Farm. Both books are referenced directly by Metatron with direct quotes from each one but an attentive reader might quickly realise that the status quo for this present world is very much alike to the one we see in 1984 with three separate powers seemingly warring with each other and forming alliances together. The cyborgs also have the potential to be the pigs of this story, as Metatron hints at plans far beyond his current station. Without spoiling anything more, I actually like how these two stories are implemented into Beyond Blue Eyes, it provides an additional sense of hopelessness that sadly rings true for all those involved. Ultimately, the backbone of the story is essentially uncovering a wider global conspiracy to bring down Olympia. One side is direct, while the other has infiltrated society itself. The execution seems to stray from how Cyberpunk is usually handled, and I could argue this book subverts a lot of that expectation but in a good way.
The characters are the best part of this book, and it’s hard to settle on a favourite. Metatron is a great villain, always one step ahead and very much a capable threat. It’s actually nice to see a competent male villain since often these days they are dispatched comically easily. Metatron is not like that, he’s like a twisted mix of Big Brother and O’Brien. His manipulation of Nephilim and the other Angels is pretty stand out but even he has flaws such as being quick to anger when questioned about his motives by those closest to him but for the most part, the leader of the Angels is very much in control and I look forward to seeing what his goals are in the sequel.
Nephilim’s arc is also what you would expect from a cyborg gradually becoming more human. She learns to let people in and starts living for herself. The truth of what she is is fairly obvious but the way it’s shown to her is once again very 1984. The book relies a lot on mental subjugation and it does that very well. A character I didn’t expect to like but ended up quickly becoming my favourite is Finwick. What starts off as a creep, turns into a genuine hero who not only outsmarts the man himself, Metatron but his willingness to put his neck on the line for Nephilim is how she’s able to become free of the network. It could be said that without Finwick, her dreams of being free might have fallen short.
Jake is also very well done and from the get-go, you get a sense he is not who seems, almost too good to be true. While there is a romantic subplot with him and Nephilim, it does a lot to actually show the difference between human and cybernetic interaction. He is a reflection of a society that is more intimate and that definitely comes across.
The other characters all stand out in their own way, even Adriel who I wish we saw more of, he’s present in the beginning but is alas overshadowed by a very strong cast of characters.
WORLD BUILDING 5/5
The world-building is great and I look forward to seeing more of it when I read the sequel. I won’t go too much into it here but the three different organisations and how they operate are well thought out. Plus it plays into the references mentioned earlier.
OTHER + FINAL THOUGHTS
All in all, a fun read for anyone that likes science fiction or cyberpunk. The only thing I will say is that the backend of the story has a lot of sex, if that’s not to your taste, then you may find your enjoyment a little hampered. But honestly, even that serves a purpose in the grand scheme of the story. It was nice to actually read a cyberpunk novel that didn’t just revolve around bringing the system down and even that element was subverted in its execution, more so this is a story about individuality and the price you have to pay to get it.
And as always, you are welcome to form your own opinion of any book I read. Since I’m fairly random when it comes to what stories I read, expect to see a broad mix of authors you may or may not know.
A link to the book, Beyond Blue Eyes can be found here – here