Javelin Rain is the latest novel from American author and veteran Myke Cole. In it Cole continues the story of Ex-SEAL Jim Schweitzer, as he comes to terms with the strange undead superhero form he picked up in Gemini Cell of which you can read my review here. Javelin Rain felt like a bit of a genre shift from the previous book, which felt a little strange for a continuation of a series, but which admirably suited the focus of the plot and story. I’m glad that Cole is willing to play with the formula in the name of telling the best possible story.
Being a US Navy SEAL was Jim Schweitzer’s life right up until the day he was killed. Now, his escape from the government who raised him from the dead has been coded “Javelin Rain.” Schweitzer and his family are on the run from his former unit, the Gemini Cell, and while he may be immortal, his wife and son are not.
Jim must use all of his strength to keep his family safe, while convincing his wife he’s still the same man she once loved. Only what his former allies have planned to bring him down could mean disaster not only for Jim and his family, but for the entire nation…
As the events of this novel progressed, I was more and more of the opinion that I’m not altogether sure how we get from here to Control Point, the original novel in this series. It’s a little like a novel where there’s just a dinosaur park, and people go there, and everything’s fine, and then reading Jurassic Park. Things go so far south in that one, you’d wonder how they ever got an insurance company to underwrite the plan again. Similarly, Javelin Rain seems like a textbook case of ‘we’re scrapping the program, let’s never speak of this again’. I guess it goes to show just how tightly a government will hold on to anything that gives it any kind of power or control. Either way, I’d hate to see all of the things that happen in this novel get explained to the budget committee.
One thing I mentioned in the intro was the fact that Javelin Rain was a bit of a genre shift from Gemini Cell and that’s because we’ve left the military theme behind, and changed over into more of an escape/manhunt novel. Jim Schweitzer is on the run, pursued by people at least as powerful as he is, and while he sticks to doctrine, it felt a lot like pretty much all of the formal military elements present in the first book were absent. This didn’t detract from the story at all, and seemed a perfectly natural progression, but in our modern world of fifty million subgenres, and the apparent need to classify everything as minutely as possible, it was still nice to see Cole just tell his story and not appear to feel at all constrained to keep writing exclusively military sci-fi.
And make no mistake, it’s a great story. Schweitzer is an excellent character. Sympathetic, strong, dedicated, loyal. Even pursued by people wanting nothing more than to murder him, he puts the innocents in his care first over and over again. Even having been basically murdered, tortured, possessed and shown that the military he served is at least partially run by corrupt if not outright evil people, he remains exactly the kind of person the military needs more of. That he can stay on mission without giving in to the perfectly rational desire for messy horrible revenge makes him the epitome of what special forces should be. The plot was also phenomenally well paced, and had just enough new twists and turns to keep it engaging while carrying forward and developing characters from the first book. In fact, through the whole story the only element that bugged me was what I will term ‘Chekov’s KA-BAR’.
You see, one of the characters is in possession of a magical KA-BAR knife (one of these) that has the power of basically instantly destroying any person currently possessed by the kind of spirit that Schweitzer picked up in book 1. That character even gets to use it to pretty stellar effect in the novel. But there is a scene, somewhat towards the end, where all the big climactic events are going down, where the knife gets knocked away and down some stairs. The concept of ‘Chekov’s Gun’ is from writing stories, where Anton Chekov said “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” You don’t get to show us the crazy super-powered weapon skittering across the floor and then just leave it there! I kept waiting for somebody to pick the thing up and use it, and was disappointed.
So very tiny quibble aside, yes, very much go read Gemini Cell so that you can read Javelin Rain. Cole has absolutely found his groove, and is powering through it. Between his deep, thoughtful portrayal of the military as it is and perhaps as it ought to be, and his strong writing chops, I feel that Cole is fast becoming one of the more important names in Sci-Fi. The name of the third book in this prequel trilogy hasn’t yet been released, but I am very much looking forward to reading it. Check this author out!
Dan received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Ace Via NetGalley