Review: 'The God Peak' by Patrick Hemstreet Walks the Line Between Sci-Fi and Techno-Thriller

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 - 2:08PM
Tuesday, 22 August 2017 - 2:08PM
Review: 'The God Peak' by Patrick Hemstreet Walks the Line Between Sci-Fi and Techno-Thriller
Image credit: Harper Voyager
The God Peak is one of those rare, ambitious titles that runs the boundary between being a techno-thriller, hard sci-fi, and something new. Neuromancer springs to mind, but so does The Da Vinci Code. If you haven't read our interview with Patrick Hemstreet, the author, go ahead and read that first—it helps you understand where The God Peak is coming from, and the kind of future it's looking toward.

As the second book in the series (the first is The God Wave), The God Peak spends a lot of time sorting through the fallout of the first book: there's a lot of exposition, a lot of bridging the gaps to make sure we're all up to speed, and that's fine. As soon as I opened the book, I knew I was in the hands of an author I could trust. You can tell that this is a book written by a scientist with lab experience—the level of detail given to the team's experiments and tech grounds everything in the confident language of a life-long techie (or, in this case, a neuro-engineer). The actual plotting of the book is incredibly brisk, with every new chapter bringing a new angle to the intrigue and raising the stakes little by little

At the beginning of Peak, the major players are Deep Shield, the rogue Alphas, Chuck Brenton, and his team. The relationships between Chuck, Mini, Chen, Eugene, and Dice are the tissue that holds most of the book together, and despite the large roster it has to work with, the book handles their banter, fears, and romances well. This is a story about people and their minds, scientifically and emotionally, and it's refreshing to see a protagonist who isn't a lone wolf, but rather a leader. Brenton and his team are more or less normal people thrown into an extraordinary situation, and it's interesting to see them try to tackle issues (like power-mad psychokinetic terrorists holding the world hostage) that they never signed up for.  

On the other hand, Kristian Lorstad, the mysterious benefactor of Chuck and Co., was a bit of an issue for me. Kristian is something like a cross between Count Dracula and a doctor from Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain: he's inhumanly calm, composed, and wrapped up in the not-so-subtle aura that there are things he's not telling the crew. His interest in and experiments with the Zetas' abilities also highlight just how much work Hemstreet has to do to keep the rules of his neuroscience-based sci-fi clear and believable. Some of the Zeta's abilities seem dangerously close to magic (Clarkes' Third Law applies here), and though Hemstreet puts a lot of effort into explaining them, the answer of "quantum physics" sometimes feels like a stretch. It's a moot point, really—the real strength of The God Peak lies in its imagination, solid plotting, and vision. On top of that, it's got strong characters, a lot of neuroscience, and semi-autonomous ninja robots. What else could you really want?

The God Peak hits stores today! You can grab a copy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and check out more from Patrick Hemstreet on his website.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Books