Review: Flight of Shadows

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I do not regret the price I paid for my love for you. But I do regret what it has cost you, all your life. And I have never stopped regretting all that I kept hidden from you.

And so concludes the mysterious letter with which Sigmund Brouwer begins Flight of Shadows, the dystopian sequel  to Broken Angel, set in the post-apocalyptic, former United States of America, that combines the Handmaid's Tale-esque, cult-like theocracy of Appalachia with the Orwellian caste system of the City-States. Caitlyn Brown, having escaped from Appalachia, struggles to survive as an outcast in the City-State caste system as she searches for answers to questions of her identity and the origin of the horrific secret she holds.

Caitlyn Brown is the sole human survivor of a secret, government genetic-engineering program. Her father, Jordan Brown, sabotaged the program and fled with Caitlyn to Appalachia, leaving the last-remaining record of the government program locked inside her DNA. When Caitlyn escaped, she was pursued not only by a sadistic bounty hunter from Appalachia but also by government agents who knew her identity, and the powerful secrets her DNA holds.

Flight of Shadows is a hero's journey that explores themes of scientific morality and the loss of freedom due to governmental and theocratic totalitarianism, written with the page-turning pacing of Dan Brown and the intertwining plot-lines of Tom Clancy.

After trudging through the exposition, which is uncharacteristically slow for the rest of the novel, the plot settles into a more reasonable pace for a suspense story. Therein lies the greatest short-coming of the novel: the back story is woven into the novel so slowly that character development is impaired for anyone unfamiliar with the prequel. Thus, most emotional investment in the characters is delayed until too far into the story.

The exceptions to this rule are Pierce Carson, the government agent pursuing Caitlyn who provides the moral center for the story, and Razor, the unpredictable, self-serving "Invisible" with a harrowing past of his own who befriends Caitlyn.

But persevering through these two short-comings yields a decent return on investment. The story develops the characters enough that the reader feels a sense of justice and redemption in the novel's lethal, explosive climax. The emotional attachment to the novel's characters probably isn't sufficient to make me want to read the prequel, but Brouwer's story-telling is compelling enough for me to consider reading some of his other works.

Full disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.