BLURB: “Earth’s Zero Asset citizens no longer face extermination from orbit. Thanks to Alan Saul, the Committee’s network of control is a smoking ruin and its robotic enforcers lie dormant. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the wreckage, comes the ruthless Serene Galahad. She must act while the last vestiges of committee infrastructure remain intact – and she has the means to ensure command is hers.
On Mars, Var Delex fights for the survival of Antares base, while the Argus space station hurls towards the red planet. And she knows whomever, or whatever, trashed Earth is still aboard. Var must save the base, while also dealing with the first signs of rebellion.
And aboard Argus station, Alan Saul’s mind has expanded into the local computer network. In the process, he uncovers the ghastly experiments of the Humanoid Unit Development, the possibility of eternal life, and a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight. But Earth’s agents are closer than Saul thinks, and the killing will soon begin.”
REVIEW: This second book in ‘The Owner’ series picks up right where the last book left off, with Saul’s takeover of the Argus space station and his simultaneous destruction of the power of the Committee. The helpful sections of background information that were present in the last novel are still present throughout this one, and enable the reading to continue to gain a deeper understanding of this new, apocalyptic world despite the fast-pace of the current plotline. As the blurb suggests, the book is divided into three main strands – the stories of the psychopathic Serene Galahad, the new leader Varalia Delex, and ‘The Owner’ himself, Alan Saul. The action kicks off instantly, with this book instantly gripping the reader just as the first did and taking them on a whirlwind journey of rebellion through space and time. Within the first hundred pages of the book, Saul is fatally wounded and, as he falls deeper and deeper into unconsciousness, it is up to Hannah Neumann to not only keep Saul alive, but also to assume command of the ship using the instructions that the only living part of Saul – his computerised and vastly expanding brain – are giving her. At the same time as Hannah struggles with her vaguely directed leadership, Var is also struggling to maintain her position on the Antares base as the seeds of dissent begin to be sown among her crew, leaving her with no-one to turn to and no-one she can trust. Finally, there is Serene Galahad, a ruthless tyrant who plans to purge the Earth of its excess population using the terrible Scour disease (which resembles something similar to the Ebola virus) and is harsh towards anyone who opposes her. We are also introduced to the perspectives of two other characters; Clay, Serene’s right-hand man who is beginning to feel the urge for rebellion himself, and Alex, whose dangerous mission aboard Argus lead him into all kinds of trouble. This characters both add an interesting extra dimension to the book, and it is also nice to see previous characters, like the twins Brigitta and Angela, who bring both intelligence and wit to the crew of Argus. The book ends on a touching note with the reunion of siblings Saul and Var, but with Serene still on the loose, many questions remain unanswered. I look forward to finding out where the next book will take Saul and Var as they begin to grow in both strength and ruthlessness.