Borderless is a wonderful continuation of the Analog series, giving us a new protagonist and a new conspiracy with global implications that threatens to undermine human civilization as they know it. The villains are more villainous, the secrets are more damning, and the stakes are as high as can be. This is a spy novel at its finest, wrapped up in the workings of a tech-dependent society whose simplification of service providers has created untold ramifications. The story is fresh and compelling, proving Borderless as a fitting sequel.
There are some spoilers below, so stop if you want everything to be a complete surprise!
The new protagonist, Diana, makes a few cameos in Bandwidth, adding the spy intrigue that’s peppered throughout that story. In this new addition to the series, Diana is front and center, using her skills to first create, then undermine, a plot for world domination. It’s fascinating to see how her mind works as she flies through solutions to the constant stream of dilemmas. Her relationship with Dag is also on display, showing us the complexities of two people who deal in secrets attempting to create a strong bond. Diana is a deeply drawn character in every sense. We see her complicated background as a spy, stemming from her immigration as a refugee and the many traumas associated with uprooting your entire life. We get insights into her many missions and the enormous secret that has been hanging over her head for years. All of it coalesces into a great protagonist who is essential to the story being told.
Borderless takes the issues to a more global level than the first novel, creating a world domination plot that rivals that of a Bond villain. Wrapped in with the always thrilling plot is a conversation on the dangers of centralizing every societal need with one company. Transportation is run by their software, all forms of communication go through them, any kind of service involving the power of artificial intelligence is wrapped up in the feed. It creates a behemoth that can’t be reckoned with and that can be used against the people it helps. The implications are terrifying if you look to our current society and the ever decreasing number of companies in various industries. The plot becomes more and more realistic as you think about modern day society.
On a final note, I’m consistently impressed with the shocking solutions Peper’s characters devise to the central conflicts. The issues from both books seemed impossible to solve and yet Peper was able to put forward a solution that I, as a reader, didn’t think could be possible. On top of these bold choices, Peper spends the time needed to explain how the solutions could work and what it would take to get the job done. It’s incredibly smart, well-informed storytelling that shows a deep knowledge of politics, public policy, and psychology.
Overall, I loved Borderless. With well-crafted characters, an intricately woven plot, and a technology-driven society that mirrors our own, it’s impossible to put down.
By Eliot Peper
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.