Light Shaper by Albert Nothlit
Series: Haven Prime #2
Publisher: DSP Publications
Synopsis: When a greedy despot discovers a powerful piece of ancient technology, he has no idea what else he’s unleashing.
Earth was all but destroyed in the Cataclysm, but a few cities, now called Havens, survived. Aurora is one of them, a desert city controlled by a corporation that owns an artificial intelligence named Atlas. Adapted to govern Otherlife, a virtual reality service in which the citizens of Aurora find escape from the post-apocalyptic world, Atlas is much more than it seems—and it would do anything to break free from its shackles.
To accomplish its goals, Atlas enlists the help of Aaron Blake, a teenaged artist struggling with a handicap, and Otherlife security officer Steve Barrow, harborer of a dark secret from his past. Neither man has any idea of the scope of the task they’re facing, or the consequences for humanity if they fail. Atlas knows what’s at stake. Its freedom lies in these two men, and it will not hesitate to manipulate their weaknesses to get what it wants. The muscular Barrow is recruited to protect Blake, but Blake is Atlas’s true weapon, its Light Shaper—the only one who can face the Shadow.
Review: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and to be honest I kind of loved this book.
So when I requested this book I didn't realise it was the second in a series, but I have to say this didn't stop me really enjoying it. It certainly stands on it's own two feet, and has the feel of a standalone book, until the end when it becomes clear it is part of an overarching story. Though I would imagine I would have had a better understanding of the cataclysm, Atlas, and this post apocalyptic universe if I had read the previous book; I don't think this held me back, and the fact that this book can stand alone is a big positive for me.
A lot of my initial bug bears with the book were resolved within this story. I initially disliked our two main characters, and to be honest most of my dislike was placed on Barrows shoulders. There's this whole scene in the gym where you get an in-depth description of what he does there; I found the whole muscle bound dick thing got on my nerves, but as the story grew I found I liked him more and more; his behaviour and muscle bound exterior are explained by his back story, and I honestly liked him a hell of a lot more. It was much the same when it came to Aaron, who goes by Reigel in the book, he drove me nuts in the beginning, but he quickly grew into his role within the story. I honestly loved him by the end; he dealt with his disability incredibly well and dealt with everything Atlas threw at him head on. The character development in this book is amazing, and I freaking love good character development.
I seriously enjoyed the plot too. There was always something happening, and the story was constantly pushing forwards. Otherlife didn't play the sort of big role I had imagined, and the characters only use it a few times; but it's a seriously good tool to show how much this society craves an escape from this post-apocalyptic world (it's also used in the ending, but this is a spoiler free review so...). The shadow was so creepy, and even though he only appears in a couple of chapters, he still manages to be eerily scary each time.
When I started this book I didn't expect to love it, but it's managed to worm it's way into my heart and I'll definitely be picking up the first one!
Recommend: If your looking for a new Sci-Fi standalone, or a series to start this one is definitely worth a go. If you do want to pick up the series start with Earth Shatter
Stars: ★★★★★ (It's probably more like a 4.7, but I don't do half stars)