Book Review: Second Chance Angel by Griffin Barber and Kacey Ezell
Far into the future, humanity is scattered among the stars. Recruited to fight a war against a rapacious alien race, humanity won… and lost Earth. On a space station called Last Stop, former soldier Ralston Muck lives a hardscrabble existence as a nightclub bouncer. Stripped of his personal AI, or ‘angel’ when he was dishonourably discharged, he manages his body modifications with a pharmacopeia of barely-legal drugs from less than legal sources.
Singer Siren works in the club, and she still has a fully functioning AI, one which helps her integrate with the club’s systems to broadcast her powerful emotions along with her song. Targeted by an overenthusiastic patron one night, the club owner orders Muck to see her home. Distressed and angered at her AI overriding her body for self-defence, Siren shuts down her AI… which ‘wakes up’ under attack from a virus, flees, and ends up integrating into the only available host with the right interface installed… Muck.
“Angel” and Muck both want to find Siren, for different reasons, and they need each other to do it. With no choice but to work together, they are soon on the run across the space station and beyond. But something’s not right with Angel… AIs aren’t supposed to have emotions. Aren’t supposed to be able to switch hosts. And every AI she comes into contact with seems to be developing the same strange characteristics…
There’s actually an intriguing little romance subplot going on here too, with Muck initially attracted physically to Siren but actually ending up in something of a ‘relationship’ with Angel… an odd one, since the AI doesn’t have a physical presence as such but has the capability, plugged into Muck’s brain, to make him ‘see’ and ‘feel’ her.
Eventually Angel and Muck resolve the inherent conflict of Angel technically ‘belonging’ to a different host, but by now it’s obvious that there is something much bigger at play than they realise. Although at the present time there’s no series title, I’d be surprised if it’s not continued; there’s enough for at least a trilogy here if not more, and an awful lot of questions still to be answered.
While I enjoyed the read, there are a few too many things which are skimmed over or ignored for my liking. I’d read more in the series, though, because I did like the characters and wanted to know more about them. Four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.