The Devil You Know
- Author: Kit Rocha
- Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian
- Publication Date: August 31, 2021
- Publisher: Tor Books
- Series: Mercenary Librarians #2
CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, torture, blood
Maya has a price on her head. She’s genetically engineered for genius and trained for revolution; there’s only one thing she can’t do—forget.
Gray has finally broken free of the Protectorate, but he can’t escape the time bomb in his head. His body is rejecting his modifications, and his months are numbered.
When Maya’s team uncovers an operation trading in genetically enhanced children, she’ll do anything to stop it. Even risk falling back into the hands of the monsters that made her.
And Gray has found a purpose for his final days: keeping Maya safe.
I couldn’t wait to start reading this, but I reread the audiobook version of book 1 before starting this one, and I’m so glad I did. I picked up on a bunch of things I missed the first time around, and I was beyond ready to find out what happened next.
While this is firmly in the sci-fi/dystopian genre, there’s a hefty dose of romance in it, and one fairly spicy scene as well, ensuring that both genres are done exceptionally well, which is often difficult to find in a genre-crossing novel. It centers on a near-future version of America, devastated by solar flares. Atlanta is ruled over by TechCorps, a company that invests significantly in technological and scientific advances, and as expected, one with very few, if any, morals. It genetically engineers and modifies people into weapons, used for various purposes: soldiers, assassins, data couriers for sensitive information, and tech whizzes.
“They were literal supersoldiers. Rogue supersoldiers, no less, former members of the fearsome Protectorate. In all of Maya’s years on the Hill, she’d done her best to avoid members of the TechCorps’ standing army. The biochemical implants hardwired into their brains gave them unbelievable speed, enough strength to lift a car, and the stamina to go days without rest or sleep.”
However, these modifications come with a cost. In Maya’s case, her perfect recall has the ability to compromise her mental health. For others, a brain implant is what gives them their enhanced abilities, but these aren’t always guaranteed not to fail. In Gray’s case, his implant is rejecting, which dooms him to a certain death. But the TechCorps isn’t concerned, because all of these people aren’t viewed as people. They’re assets, and they’re all replaceable.
“They were soldiers like Knox and Gray, people who lived twenty-plus years with their Protectorate implants, but even they couldn’t pull the average life expectancy up over eight years. Most soldiers were dead by year five.”
This series is the found family trope at its finest. While book 1 starts with the Silver Devils and Nina and her girls as two separate families, over the course of the series, these two separate groups have merged into a single quirky family unit. It’s weird, but it works, and it works really well. I loved seeing how they all mesh, and the different personalities all manage to fit in together perfectly.
“Knox surveyed them all, looking happy enough to burst. So did Nina, for that matter. Just a proud mom and dad overseeing their misfit band of rogue supersoldiers, fugitive criminals, evil clones, and one random superkid.”
The pace was a little slow in the beginning of the book. Unlike the first book, where the pace is fast and full of action for the entire story, this one focuses more on the relationships between Maya and Gray, and their own discoveries about themselves and each other for a bit more than the first half of the story. There’s a lead that the crew is working on tracking down, but they don’t make a lot of progress towards it. It’s a lot more geared towards pulling on the heartstrings, and priming us for Gray’s ultimate demise and Maya’s impending heartbreak.
“How was he supposed to feel this impossible truth in his gut, where it counted? Death had to remain distant, a nebulous thing that Would Happen Someday but didn’t bear closer scrutiny. Anything else was paralyzing. If he faced it, he couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, because every breath he drew was one fewer left in his life.”
But then the pace picks up exponentially in the second half of the book. I was fully invested in the story, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The characters were already close to my heart, and although some new ones were introduced, most of the focus was on the ones that we already knew. I loved that we also got to know some of the older characters in different lights — there were even some chapters from the POV of different characters, which was intriguing. And as always, there were internal memos, private diary entires, and other TechCorps communications from the past, which reveal just a hint of information, but nowhere close to enough! It ends with just enough closure, but also provides a bit of a cliffhanger that makes me desperate to get my hands on the next book as soon as it comes out.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
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