Book Review of A Surefire Way (UltraSecurity #1), by J.T. Bock

A Surefire Way (UltraSecurity #1)I downloaded J. T. Bock‘s A Surefire Way from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
UltraAgent Surefire’s plan is simple: Capture the transhuman thief Raven. Win back the respect of her father. Get a raise.

Easy, right?

Except Surefire just broke the number one rule of her employer, UltraSecurity, a niché security firm that solves crimes committed by genetically enhanced humans like Raven. She trailed Raven into a warehouse without backup. And something more powerful than any transhuman is waiting inside.

Raven’s plan is simple: Atone for his past crimes. Return stolen spiritual artifacts to restore the world’s balance. Don’t get caught by UltraSecurity.

Easy, right?

Until a spunky UltraSecurity agent is suddenly on his tail, although Raven wishes she was on … well, never mind … he can’t get distracted from his mission. Because she’s followed him into a warehouse filled with his reclaimed relics, and Raven’s ex-partner in crime is about to unleash a supernatural-sized complication into his plan.

His old partner has accidentally summoned an Aztec god who will destroy the world unless Raven stops this spirit with a superiority complex. To do this, Raven must team up with Surefire and reveal the truth about his powers, exposing her to a force that can either save the world or destroy them both.

Following Raven into that warehouse throws Surefire into a surreal world filled with moody gods, day-glo skulls, dizzying dimensional portals, maniacal half-roach magicians, and a sexy thief who is more than he appears under his snug t-shirt. Is Raven a criminal, or is he working for a higher power? Surefire needs to be certain, because if she joins him on this mission, she’ll have to surrender everything she believed in for a surefire way to save the world, discover her destiny and find true love.

Just ’cause it is annoying my at the very moment I’ll indulge myself and give a quick gripe about that ridiculously long description. Why do authors do this? As a reader, I’d have rathered it ended after the second ‘easy, right’ and left me with a little more mystery. Oh well, just my opinion. Moving on.

A Surefire Way is a well-written, well-edited genre non-specific read. It falls somewhere between sci-fi and urban fantasy (With romance thrown in, but I’d call it supernatural as opposed to paranormal, so I don’t know if I’d classify it as a paranormal romance.) Yeah, I kinda feel sorry for the author who has to find the proper niche for this thing, must be frustrating. Either way, it was enjoyable.

It takes Surefire and (peripherally) a group of X-men-like genetic mutants (many of which will feel very familiar to the reader) with skills ranging from never missing a target (Surefire), to fire (Inferno), to shrinking fairy-sized (Pixie), to space/time manipulation (TimeTrap), etc and throws in a little ancient Aztec god-magic to form an entertaining ‘we have to save the world’ type of adventure.

I think it’s set in modern America. It’s never stated, but there are a lot of contemporary media references and I never got the impression it was supposed to be in the distant future. So, I’m going with the here and now for setting. I might have liked a little more clarity here, as well as a little more actual world-building. For example, with so many transhumans about, with SERIOUS powers how were people largely unaware or, if not, what was the human/transhuman situation (beyond the Department of Defense’s involvement)?

The MCs were both sarcastic and relatable. I especially liked Surefire’s need to be successful and Raven’s emotional self-awareness. Watching them fight and eventually give in to their love was a pleasure.

The whole thing did get a little ridiculous at times, going back in time to play ulama, for example. It just stretched it’s own credibility a bit too far. It began to feel like having a Transhuman with a convenient power/skill to solve a given problem became a bit of a plot crutch. However, this was made up for by some of the really remarkable side characters. Pax and Oracle (alone and as a pair) were a favourite and St. John was amazingly revolting. All this without even mentioning the god and goddess.

For a fun, if somewhat slap-stick read this one is worth picking up.

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