Reentry is a multi-faceted thrill ride, shifting between a conversation on the future of artificial intelligence and mankind’s abilities to destroy that which we have created. We’re experiencing the aftermath of an AI attack gone wrong, resulting in a nuclear war that has devastated much of the world. Three astronauts arrive from Mars to find the opposite of a welcome party. From the moment they wake up, tensions are heavy and the stakes are incredibly high. Cawdron’s world is filled with secrets, betrayals, and a future that’s as bleak as it is hopeful.
A few spoilers ahead, so move beyond the fold if you want to hear more!
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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A few of my favorite things:
VISITORS TO A TORN WORLD
While an apocalyptic future scenario is always interesting to witness, it’s especially compelling to see through the eyes of astronauts who have been asleep for months. They’ve been quarantined from the world at large, unaware of the raging wars and bitter opinions of the populace. What starts as excitement to return to their homes becomes a terrifying journey with enemies around every corner. You never know what the next chapter will bring, leaving you incredibly invested in the plot.
A CLOSEUP OF AI OVERLORDS
The occasional narrative shift to the AIs creates a fascinating conversation on the future of mankind. These brilliant minds lie in hiding, contemplating their next move while having philosophical conversation on whether humanity is worth saving. Their bits are always insightful, leaving you questioning which side you might be on.
A CONVERSATION ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN
There’s a brilliant subplot pulled from the first novel that examines what makes a human human. If you’re just a disembodied consciousness that fully mirrors your previous self, does it count? Or are you required to have some kind of body, even though it’s different from your original form? What starts as a small inkling becomes extremely real about halfway through, leaving you in awe and fear of what these AIs are capable of.
I was amazed at how deftly Cawdron was able to turn on the no-hold-barred action. The book shifts from Congressional hearings to deadly plots in a matter of pages, and it always feels like the right direction. There’s never a dull moment.
TOP NOTCH WRITING ABILITIES
On a final note, this is the kind of book that doesn’t rest heavily on its predecessor. While the previous story is important, Reentry adds a lot to the mix, shifting the conflict to a global scale and spelling potential doom for the entire human race. It’s a testament to the author that I was able to get 40% through without fully realizing this must be a sequel. Embarrassing on my part as a reviewer, admirable on the author’s part. No matter what, it’s a thrilling book that demands to be read.
By Peter Cawdron
Published by John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt