Codename: Winterborn

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Category: Self-published
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Date Published: February 28, 2013
Number of Pages: 282
Print Price: $9.85
eBook Price: $0.00

A unique story entrenched in pedestrian writing, Codename: Winterborn is fun but fails to excite.

The year is 2093, and a third of the world has been turned into wasteland after a failed military test incited nuclear war three years previously. Lieutenant Kevin Anderson is a former Navy SEAL, now leading a special ops team. While on a routine mission, his team is betrayed by their government and left for dead in a Muslim-controlled France. As the sole survivor, Kevin takes upon himself a mission of revenge, which leads to consequences and revelations beyond what even he expected.

In their not-too-distant future, authors Allan Yoskowitz and Declan Finn have created a world similar enough to relate to yet, with some interesting twists. For instance, France is now under sharia law. This is explained early on in the first chapter: “In 2050, the lopsided birth rate of the tenth French Republic had finally caught up to them. […] The Catholics had been driven out, and the Left Secularists had been out-bred...” – thus leading to an extremist branch of Islam taking control.

Throughout the book there is a smattering of references to futuristic tech – laser weapons, explosive uranium rounds for machine guns, high-tech headgear, and nanotech armour – but most of it doesn't feel 80 years away. Because of this, one can often forgot that the year is 2093, and though this doesn't detract from the story, as a sci-fi fan I would have preferred a bit more science in my fiction.

When the science, the future, and other setting-based specifics are stripped away – the story is one of revenge. I almost added 'and redemption', since the motivation Anderson gives himself for his revenge is to redeem himself and make a better world for others, but the idea of redemption and hope barely reaches past the surface of the story. The reader is only confronted with this idea once or twice, and in ways that seem heavy-handed. At one point, Anderson is deciding whether to save a city filled with violence and corruption, and he reflects:

“’Is there possibility of redemption for San Francisco? Is there hope for it? A better question should be, is there any hope at all? Answer... yes, because I'm still alive.’” Kevin sighed deeply. “’And I will make this sacrifice, for I am Winterborn.’”

That is all that's given. The idea surfaces and is immediately concluded. Contrast this to the theme of revenge, which is the particular focus of the first half of Codename: Winterborn. Anderson tries to explain that his mission (to kill fourteen people who betrayed him) isn't about revenge, instead claiming treason for his justification, but his logic is brought crashing down when he goes out of his way to cause excruciatingly painful deaths.

Other themes are hinted at – including the necessity of government, trust, friendship – but again, these notions are not developed enough to inspire reflection in the reader.

One theme in particular which seems tacked on as a late addition is the Catholicism. Anderson is described as “Mr. Altar Boy” and it's implied that he's a faithful Catholic; but apart from the three scenes where he's in a Church, there is absolutely no wider implication of this backstory – no guilt, no prayer, no recognition of God. What was the point of including this detail, other than being able to say 'Our main character is Catholic'?

In addition, perhaps one could see the hand of God at work in many of the fortuitous events, but again this is never acknowledged. Instead, many of the miraculous happenings are attributed to Kevin Anderson's amazing skills and gifts.

There's also an odd romance (with an unnecessary and very weird 'sex' scene, where one of the characters involved is asleep), and a disappointing lack of tension during most events in the story. Even a 'big reveal' halfway through the book doesn't elicit any emotion, since no build up was given.

After saying all of this, Winterborn is still an enjoyable story which Anderson takes us on. The book is split into two very definite halves, each extremely different from the other. The first is very much focused on revenge, while the latter is much more character-based. With this shift in the second half of the story, a number of characters from the first half become totally irrelevant, and that characters introduced later on don't have much time to do anything. But the shift in style is a welcome one. The second half gives us an exciting take on a post-war city and has a lot more fun with itself.

Codename: Winterborn has a lot of good ideas, but only a handful is executed well. If you're looking for a light sci-fi story with some fun action, not too much depth, and you can get past a few inelegant descriptions, then at least Winterborn won't disappoint.

Publisher:
ISBN-13: 978-1482052329
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches


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Thomas is a young Catholic seminarian for the Diocese of Christchurch in New Zealand. He has four great passions: the Christian faith, photography, films as entertainment and art, and written fiction. When not praying at the Seminary, he also enjoys digital design, Tolkien, knitting, and playing squash. You can check out his blog at http//:www.sayyourprayerswell.wordpress.com.

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