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Androne

Fantastic writing carries a flawed premise

This week, I’ll be reviewing the science fiction novel “Androne.” Set in a dystopian world with an intriguing premise, it’s a novel that has drawn a lot of praise but also some criticism. Some will love it, others will want to tear it apart. Here’s my take:

Overview

Androne starts in a broken future after a mysterious event (called the Ninety-Nine) crippled the world’s military in one fell swoop. No one knows who was behind the Ninety-Nine, but still, the earth is at war. To fight this war, they’ve developed Andrones—bipedal android drones controlled remotely by soldiers.

Our protagonist is Sergeant Paxton Arés, whose life is divided between patrolling an unidentified desert, maintaining a connection with his pregnant girlfriend, navigating military politics, and reflecting on impending fatherhood.

Paxton is first introduced as an introverted man feeling the pressures of life. He is struggling in his career, fighting an uncertain war, and in a somewhat distant relationship with his lover (who is expecting his child). A man unmoored in his own life until his discovery of the secret behind the war gives him a sense of purpose he can’t abandon, despite the personal risk.

Fanasticly Detailed Writing

Worrel’s writing: I’m going to say some negatives about the novel below, so I want to lead with the positives.

Worrel’s writing carries this novel. It’s unique, precise, and evocative. He knows what details to focus on and what to leave to the reader’s imagination. In the beginning, we feel the despair that covers the dystopian world of Androne, infecting everything and everyone. Later, once Paxton has discovered the big secret behind the war, we experience his paranoia and sense of inescapable doom.

While the novel as a whole isn’t perfect, this excellent writing alone makes it a worthwhile read.

A World Tearing Itself Apart

While, as a reviewer, it’s difficult to go into this in any detail without giving away any spoilers, I couldn’t not mention it. Androne is set in a world tearing itself apart; there isn’t any trust between people or teams. Everyone has an agenda, and progress is constantly hampered by distrust and dislike.

It’s hard not to see parallels with the current state of our world reflected in the insidious state of paranoia described in the world. What’s particularly appropriate is the distrust between generations. We see this every day in memes, with Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Y all bitching and moaning about the other generations. Androne uses its science fiction setting to turn this up to the Nth degree.

Sense of Building Tension

At first, the tension and mystery are centred on the nature of the war they are fighting. But once that mystery is unravelled, the tension moves to Paxton’s own position and safety.

This is another aspect Worrel handles wonderfully, with each answer leading to another question and each question building danger and intrigue. The rapid pacing and suspenseful twists and turns leave you guessing about who to trust and what surprises await.

Beware – There Are Issues

Sadly, this is where we come to the biggest flaw in the novel. Unfortunately, the underlying premise behind the war is interesting at first but then falls apart on further examination. Similarly, for a large part of the novel, Paxton is ‘hunted,’ but the idea he wouldn’t be found out quickly only makes sense if every single person in the military is a simpleton.

If you are the sort of person who gets hung up on plot holes or who gets irritated when characters make bizarre and inexplicably poor decisions, then this is not the novel for you.

However, if you are able to look past this, the story compensates for these issues with an engaging narrative that will keep you turning the page.

You can buy Androne here.

If you enjoyed this, you may also be interested in reading about my favourite cyberpunk books.

About the Author

Graham Sim

Graham Sim hails from North East England, where he divides his time between his wife and kids, and his love of urban fantasy, noir mysteries, and science fiction.

You can read his first book, the urban fantasy noir ‘Screaming in the Shadows’ here.

Graham promises he only refers to himself in the third person in his author bio. He’s odd, but not that odd.

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