Three by Jay Posey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When he runs into a woman and child on the run, gun-toting bounty hunter Three finds himself escorting them across a post-apocalyptic wasteland and protecting them from genetically altered warriors, brain-hackers, and the Weir, glowing-eyed ghoul-like creatures that stalk the night. Can Three stop the people following Wren and his mother and get them to safety or will they join the ranks of the undead?
Official Business: I got this print ARC from Angry Robot in exchange for reviewing it. Thank you, Angry Robot!
When I first saw the cover of Three and read the description, I knew I had to read it and I was not disappointed. Three is a post-apocalyptic adventure tale in the vein of The Road Warrior, only with fewer vehicles and a higher tech level and body count. Actually, it feels more like a Western than anything else, despite cybernetics, mutants, and things of that nature.
Three, the hero of the tale, is cast from the Man with No Name mold, a deadly man hiding a secret. Cass, is a chemic, a drug-dependent fighter who is running on fumes. Wren, her son, is a six year old with some pretty amazing abilities. The men hunting them, Asher and his crew, are a power-hungry bunch of brainhackers and fairly colorful to boot. Dagon was by far the most interesting and well rounded of the antagonists. The lesser characters like jCharles, Mol, and Jackson were memorable enough for me to remember their names and mannerisms, long after there time in the story had passed.
The story goes from wasteland to wasteland, ruined city to ruined city, and the world is revealed gradually with not an infodump in sight. There are enough twists and secrets to keep things interesting, even when the good guys aren't hiding in the dark or getting into bloody battles. The world feels lived in, not like a collection of movie sets strung together.
The writing is a notch above what I expected when I picked up the book, a step beyond the workmanlike prose one normally gets in genre fiction like this. Posey knows how to pour on the tension, what with the Weir wandering the night and bad guys always on Three and gang's heels.
I may sound like an old softie but my favorite part of the book was Three's relationship with Wren, going from uncaring loner to a surrogate father figure to the boy over the course of the book. There were a few touching moments between the two.
4.5 stars. Now I'll twiddle my thumbs until the next Legends of the Duskwalker book comes out.
Also posted on Goodreads