Reverence by Joshua Aaron Landeros is a suspenseful work of dystopian science fiction about a not-too-distant future. In an action-packed novel that touches on many of the issues of the day, readers are dropped in the near future (2065), where a new empire has risen to power, the United Nation Republic, leading the world and dominating all who threaten their security with a cyborg army.
Will, the protagonist of the novel, is one of these enhanced cybernetic soldiers, and his incredible abilities are put on display before the end of the first chapter. The premise reveals itself in a very believable way, especially through the procedural nature of the writing, which shows a familiarity with military operations, or a great deal of spot-on research. Will does what he is told, the picture of loyalty, as do all the supersoldiers, but he also seems to have a softer side, and a deep-seated interest in the world that came before.
Will is tasked with defending the Republic against terrorist attacks, partnered with Luis, another cyborg, but it gradually becomes clear that he is being singled out. For some reason, he has become a target, but no one has any explanation for him – or, at least, they aren’t willing to give him one. Breaking from his programmed orders, Will goes rogue, and decides to find out the truth of these unusual attacks for himself.
What proceeds is a thrilling and well-written journey of one man as he balances the humanity he has left with the powers that he has been given. Will undergoes remarkable changes over the course of the book, becoming decidedly more human, forming relationships, trusting people again, and essentially tipping the scales of his cyborg mind back towards an organic sense of identity.
The thorough nature of the plot, with great exposition on the rise and history of the UNR, along with the detailed aspects of cyborg technology, makes this book stand out as more than your average dystopian novel. Landeros takes the time to fully engage readers in this new world, and feel the tension between the terrorists and the oppressive superpower. Nothing is left to assumption, yet the author doesn’t stumble into the classic trap of telling, rather than showing. The scenes and dialogue are rich and authentic, while the supporting characters’ personalities are deeply developed and add spice to every chapter.
In times such as ours, this book functions as a timely reminder of a government’s true purpose, and the lengths that some people will go to in order to protect their freedom. The deceptive nature of power is also featured heavily in this book, coupled with the flexible definition of truth and patriotism. Will is an antihero for any age, someone who has been duped into the dark side and must claw his way back into the light. Blended with philosophical musings about war, human nature, and the evolution of thought, this instantly engaging plot will thrill you through every twist, and leave you with plenty to think about when you’re finished.
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