Continuing from Book 2 of the Tesla Evolution series – Decay – Faraday further tells the story of a war between cyborgs and their technological dependence and supremacy, and the humans relying on their final aces-in-the-hole in their steam-crafts and near-magical abilities in the Dystopic wasteland that houses the last surviving knowable life on Earth. Our hero Sebastian – though young and still but one of many – is dead, his allies scattered, and all is lost as the war comes to a shuddering halt… until a strange breakdown of security in a cyborg stronghold fails, and a desperate gathering of friends pull Sebastian back into life. Finding themselves in the middle of a new battle in the war for dominance, they begin a new struggle for freedom and for life itself, coming to terms with the grim reality of a conflict with a cost far above its worth… with zombies and sky pirates now joining the game.
The Tesla Evolution series has so far taken a different and darker turn with each installment, like the slow turn of Harry Potter from the somewhat wide-eyed Sorcerer’s Stone through the decidedly grim third chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban and beyond. The comparison doesn’t end here, much like the jump-started protagonist Sebastian. The shift from a sense of order and education with trouble to be triumphed as the general feel, to the lessons of adulthood in a world with only moral grays and the meaning of war to confront is much the same in both. Faraday feels like a whole shade different from what came before it; grim and dirty on a whole new level. The kick of humor that permeated the books before has more frequently turned to a cynicism of a teenager who has seen all he knows destroyed not once, nor even twice at this point. The majority of the humor comes from a fourth-wall dramatic irony aspect of the story as the absurdity of the war of cyborgs, steampunk pseudo-magicians, airship pirates, AIs and the living dead, all coming into the fray, and talking with complete sincerity about cyber-dragons and characters named with the conventions of your aunt’s social media username. The cracks that break up the tension are still there, but now more than ever mirror Sebastian’s, and an intended audience’s, progressing teenage outlook on life.
The book remains in a steady and pondering position for much of the book, though this is punctuated by a great amount of tension and often graphic violence. It never feels gratuitous, but the gritty detail of removing a machinated shredder round from a friend’s abdomen isn’t spared as much as it may have been in earlier books in the series where such things were not the focus. This time the devil is entirely in the details, and while it doesn’t usually feel slow, let alone by any means pointless, it does mean that many chapters consist of a great amount of discussion and small events before more grand occurrences can come to light. Regardless, the pacing is well kept in a way that many books fail to when aiming for similar feels.
The Tesla Evolution series continues to be in a category of its own with its signature blend of bizarre tongue-in-cheek fantasy and sincere, somewhat moving writing that really keeps you on your toes. While seeming to be more settled on its general tone and aims, the addition of new factions jumbles the plot in a way that almost takes away from the experience, and yet whatever it should be doing wrong is somehow in its favor as tropes are just mocked enough that you can appreciate it on both levels. It’s difficult to describe, but although feeling more of a stepping stone than any other part so far, this shouldn’t be the stop to get off the ‘Lingane train’ as Book 4 – Fusion – looks to be starting at a good position from the cliffhanger of this book’s ending. Developing well in both writing and book design itself, Lingane delivers another excellent and bizarre piece to those with the taste for it.