Most of us change gradually—over the course of decades. For Crusader Atriya, it will happen in a single, agonizing day. On the edge of a decaying cityscape, Atriya struggles to hold onto his identity as he faces death from both enemies and allies alike. In the process, his old self is torn away, and he catches a glimpse of what he may one day become.
Twelve hundred years ago, humanity left Earth to settle on Echo. Despite hopes for a golden age, an era of darkness fell. Government and corporations merged into the Regime. The military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement. Over half the planet is covered by crumbling cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in Atriya, but before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.
Standing in a DMV line for three hours, I was more than grateful Echo was what I chose to take along with me. In my pumps and skirt, it must have looked out of place for a dainty dame like me to be handling such a kickass book. I definitely stole some glances from the men surrounding me. They wanted to know the secret behind the smile that crept upon my lips and enchanted my eyes. The secret? Kent Wayne is a literary genius.
After Echo Vol. 1, I opened this book prepared for demolition, but was totally unprepared for Wayne to reestablish the bar for action authors. I write Christian action, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write within Wayne’s range. His comprehension of the battlefield from personal experience created a vivid, engaging setting. It wasn’t just a first-person series of actions where we’re focused only on what Atriya’s doing; this was an entire warehouse of chaos. Explosions and gunfire and teammates calling for aid. It was a world of war surrounding us.
As Wayne says in his afterword: “There are elephants in the room. I’ll start with the first one: Good God Kent, this book happened over the course of a day. One day! (Well two days, if you consider the epilogue where Atriya wakes up a day later and goes back to sleep). But aside from that: One. Day.”
Honestly I didn’t care that I just read 298 pages that occurred over the course of one day. I didn’t even think about until reading the afterword. So much happened in this one day, and all of it was relevant for character development, foreshadowing, validation, every second of this fight was crucial for what comes next. If Wayne had skipped forward with the rapid pace the plot was already traveling, we would have lost the mood and I can’t imagine reading this book without every scene that’s already included.
What was so Kickass About It?
Atriya. That’s what was so kickass. This guy enhanced himself and took on two autoguns, two Enhanciles, climbed a ladder with his legs alone, and took shit from nobody. He was a dead man the moment he stepped foot on this mission, but by the end of the book everything Atriya did on that battlefield turned the tables for his fate. And I don’t know what’s more badass than a man with enough discipline to max himself out and still keep coming.
One of my favorite scenes was the one between Atriya and Clement after Clement tried to abandon his objective. In a showdown, after Atriya boosted for a third time, Clement tried to escape and Atriya reported it to make sure Clement’s selfish ass wouldn’t escape (page 181 in the combined edition).
- Clement with a gun to Atriya’s head: “You’re f***ing dead.”
- Atriya with a gun to Clement’s head: “Don’t I know it…Who’s shaking now?”
- “Mute realization flowed between them. Their eyes ticked away from their weapons and back at each other.”
- Atriya: “Still think I can’t shoot straight?”
- Clement lowers his weapon
The tension in this scene with Atriya’s invitation for death was what put one of those thrilled grins on my face while reading.
Lovin’ Grim Language
The written gore of war induced a terror with language, and that’s one of my favorite features of Wayne’s writing. When his experience and word selection are so cohesive it becomes reality. Take these scenes of imagery for example:
- “Hairy chunks of scalp exploded from their heads, chased by gore and brain matter” (page 149)
- “The Crusader slammed his opponent onto the ground, pushing the man’s cheek against the black-lit blade that seared the floor. Dark, smoky fumes streamed off the glowing metal as it pressed against the Dissident’s flesh. The man let out an agonized wail as everything beneath his left eye was melted off his skull. As the fighter rolled away, Atriya raised a gun and fired at the rebel’s cranium, puddling the deck with brain and bone.” (page 163)
While on the topic of language, though, the only complaint I can file against the book is the occasional typographical errors. The book was edited for sure, but many words were misspelled (“They were still disoriented and wree struggling to hit Atriya” for example, page 166) and punctuation was often missing. But never would I ever file that complaint because damn, this book could do whatever the hell it wants and still top my action charts.
There were two words in this whole book I whispered out loud while reading. Two words I’ve been waiting since Vol. 1 to take place in an action scene.
Just, the sound of that is sexy. It’s sexy rolling out of my mouth. It’s an attractive phrase thinking of a dirt-grimed soldier in the middle of hell calling out these two words. The inspiration behind them is definitely less sexy; the boost was an amped up representation of the drug abuse he witnessed in the military. But when I read it, I read it not in that darkness, but in the light of calling for reinforcements.
Since the book takes place over the course of 24 hours, I don’t want to say anymore than I have and spoil anything. Just know that by chapter two of this book, I knew Kent Wayne would forever be my favorite action author. Because like Atriya killed it out in the field, Wayne killed it behind the keyboard, and I’d like to see another man try and fail to out-write him.
Buy Echo Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 Combined for six bucks and some change, or read on Kindle for free! (Note: Prices subject to change)
Follow Kent Wayne on Twitter @kentwayne108
Check out his website here!