Review of Re-Coil by J.T. Nicholas

Out on a salvage mission with a skeleton crew, Carter Langston is murdered by animated corpses left behind on this ship. Yet in this future, everyone’s consciousness backup can be safely downloaded into a brand-new body, and all you’d lose are the memories of what happened between your last backup and your death. But when Langston wakes up in his new body, he is immediately attacked in the medbay and has to fight once again for his life—and his immortality. Because this assassin aims to destroy his core forever.
Determined to find his shipmates and solve this evolving mystery, Langston locates their tech whiz Shay Chan, but two members are missing and perhaps permanently killed. Langston and Chan are soon running for their lives with the assassin and the corporation behind him in hot pursuit.
What Langston and Chan ultimately find would signal the end of humanity. What started as a salvage mission just might end up saving the world.

Well what can I say about Re-Coil other than it completely blew me away. I read this over two days as it drew me in so much I didn’t want to put it down, a huge thank you therefore to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of this cyber punk, sci-fi thriller for review. The cover quotes suggest that this is a story perfect for fans of Altered Carbon and I have to admit at the start I felt that there were perhaps a few parallels, however, I quickly moved away from that notion as it became clear that Re-Coil is very much it’s own entity.  Langston is the perfect morally grey protagonist (which is always my favourite kind) a fringe personality having lived many lifetimes but seemingly content with his current lot, which makes his accidental fall into corporate crossfire feel more than a little unfair. Shay Chan is wonderfully complex and I often found myself feeling that she was the bigger narrative focus despite the two working together for much of the story.  They fall back into old working rhythms easily, although somewhat awkwardly for reasons that will become clear when you read it.

By re-coiling, homophobia and xenophobia have all but been eradicated as the person you love can end up in a body of  different gender or heritage and society has become entirely accepting of that. Coils are in such short supply you kind of have to get what your’re given. This also though brings about a heartbreaking introspective about learning to live with being in a body that you don’t identify with in regard to gender and race, even knowing that it can change again at any given time. The story looks starkly at how people treat immortality as either a means to self destruct on a regular basis with little consequence or just to keep on going until you simply find yourself bored with life. The depth of the social construct is just staggering looking back at it now, but the story deftly avoids being chin strokey or drenched in exposition, what you have are ideas and thoughts added into a commentary which make you stop and think without being hand held through it. This is all without touching upon the morality of the big twist which propels the story forward, but there is no way I can spoil that one for you!

Whilst the first two thirds of the book is a wonderful cat and mouse thriller, it’s the final act that just totally tops this, it’s full throttle, all out, space battle goodness. What makes this so great (and I’m saying this loosely in the terms of knowing it’s quite clearly science fiction) is that so much is done to make this read as realistically as possible, ammo runs out, countdown’s take time, people get tired and mistakes get made – leading to a “pain in the ass” joke which I just know a certain scene was written around! It all gives a sense of being in the moment with the characters as they finale plays out in real time.

J.T. Nicholas has an easy writing style and cleverly traverses super science and tech speak throughout in a way that doesn’t bog the story down, as a reader you’re made to feel okay with perhaps not fully getting it as actually neither does Langston but if you do you know that Chan has your back there too. The epilogue was nicely done with a heavy dose of the maybe’s that is right up my street and was the perfect way to end the book for me.

Re-coil is a fast paced, intelligent, and thought provoking read that left me with much to consider along with a racing heart, I thought it was fantastic and well deserving of 5 stars.

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