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Billzilla

Amortals Novel Review

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Billzilla


Available from Amazon.com

    What would you do if you found out you had been killed? Further, what if the new you had to track down the old you’s killer?

    This is the odd dilemma facing Ronan Dooley, Secret Service Agent and Amortal. The Amortals Project is a program that keeps people alive long past their normal lifespan, and is a sort of insurance policy against anything lethal happening to the rich and powerful. Ronan has been granted Amortal status because of his usefulness in protecting other Amortals – including the President of the United States. So when Dooley ends up murdered, his first assignment – once his new body is up and running – is to track down the ones responsible; they may pose a threat to other Amortals, and besides, killing Dooley in such a high profile manner – broadcasting his death scene – gives the Project a black eye and unwanted bad publicity.

    Amortals is the latest novel from veteran author Matt Forbeck, and his first novel with new publisher Angry Robot. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a friend of Mr. Forbeck, and was sent a free electronic copy of Amortals to facilitate my review.

    By signing up for the Amortalds Project, the rich and powerful have new bodies grown for them, awaiting the time when old age or a lethal incident calls for a new body. Members of the project are required to download their memories every few months to minimize the loss of important data. All this is very expensive, so only the wealthy or the well-connected can afford such luxury.

    What I found most interesting about this book is the clear divide between the haves and have-nots; just like in real life, if you have the money, you’re taken care of. Forbeck doesn’t gloss things over; he shows us just what the problems are with this program, and how the system can be abused. Besides that, he spins a good yarn. We care about Dooley from the moment we meet him; he’s human, with the same kinds of foibles and weaknesses we all have. Plus, Dooley cares, and that kind of person is easy to identify with.

    As Dooley digs deeper into the mystery of his own murder, he discovers more than just a simple plot to have someone killed: he has assassins hired by an Indian gang after him; there are old religiously-motivated enemies who disapprove of the Amortals Project and who wouldn’t mind seeing Dooley dead; he’s a high-profile figure so it isn’t hard to find him; and above all that, he has a family, most of whom he’s never even met. Because of his Amortals status, Ronan Dooley has been alive for well over 150 years – long enough that several generations of ancestors have passed. The current crop includes a Great-Great-Grandson also named Ronan Dooley, whom our hero refers to as “Six” since he’s the sixth person to carry the name.

    Available now in the UK, or in the US in a Kindle edition, it becomes available stateside as a mass-market paperback on December 28, 2010.

    Amortals is action-packed; Ronan Dooley the First has plenty of chases and fight scenes to keep him occupied, and Forbeck works in enough character building and back story that Dooley seems more than real. The ending of the story leaves a few loose ends; real life isn’t tidy, so it’s refreshing to have fiction where not every plot thread is tied into a neat little bow at the end. The really important ones are well covered; there’s a few things left hanging that leave you wondering what might happen next…

    Amortals is a fast and engrossing read, highly original, and with more than its fair share of surprises. If you like thrillers with a science-fiction edge, check out Matt Forbeck’s Amortals, and strap yourself in; it’s a wicked ride.

    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    Review by Bill Bodden

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