My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this novel (received a free copy from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review).
Santos sometimes bills himself as a straight-up action guy whose books are full of explosions, but that’s doing himself a disservice. Although Chimera Code is certainly an action-oriented novel with plenty of explosions, there really is quite a lot of depth to some the issues being presented and tackled throughout the storyline.
Everything about how a futuristic or fantasy world (depending on your genre) is constructed says a lot about the ideologies an author carries with them, and taps into their own sense of ethics. When authors say they “don’t put politics in their books” that is, in my experience, code for “I want the current status quo but with flashy trappings.”
Chimera Code is progressive and subversive in lots of subtle ways, from how thoughtfully the nonbinary character is handled, to how the world economy has shifted away from being North American centric (culturally and otherwise).
So if you want your gripping cross-genre action thriller with a healthy, well-made dose of not-perfect-but-genuinely-progressive-society, and you really like cyberpunk settings, this book will be great for you 🙂 It’ll go well along with new Cyberpunk video game coming out in autumn (unrelated to this book) and the prequel graphic novel featuring Chimera Code’s main character, Cloke (definitely related to this book.) Mmmm, a cyberpunk summer!
The only thing that took my review down to 4 stars was also, paradoxically, one of the things I liked best about the novel. Zee, the nonbinary supporting character, was the real star of the show for me: I liked zir character, zir arc, the emotional impact of zir decisions, and the way a certain final showdown was handled.
But Zee is sadly not the main character 😦 That role goes to Cloke, who is a good character too, just less interesting to me personally for various reasons–perhaps because she has to be quite coy about what she knows for various plot/tension reasons and so sometimes is aloof, whereas Zee is very “open” to the reader. This aspect of the review is wholly subjective, though, so much salt as ever.