The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill

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The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill

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Buy The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A mysterious virus threatens to destroy a city as a gifted hacker tried her best to disable it. Meanwhile, a growing number of rebels threaten to overthrow the authorities in a bid to escape the city and the threat of infection.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780857522214

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New Cairo is a city on lockdown. A strange new virus has appeared, seemingly from nowhere, affecting a large percentage of the population and indiscriminately shutting down their bio augs;artificial limbs and organs. Until the virus can be contained, no one is allowed to leave the city, a decision that does not go down well with those as yet unaffected and keen to remain that way. Despite the quarantine, someone is actually trying to break INTO the city; a gifted hacker called Zala Ulora who plans to destroy the virus in the hope that the resulting gratitude of the authorities will clear her criminal record. The city is a dangerous place to be, however, as a rising mass of rebels seek to break free from quarantine and the source of the spreading virus seems untraceable.

The Hive Construct focuses on three individuals caught up in the resulting conflict: Zala, who is desperate to find the source of the virus in order to clear her name; Alice, a widowed mother who gets caught up in the rebel cause; and Ryan, a high-ranking councillor who is taken hostage by the rebels. The narrative switches between the three stories, carrying the characters headlong towards an explosive and nail-biting finale.

The book starts slowly and the pace seems to drag at the beginning, but the reader is eventually rewarded for continuing, as the story gains momentum in the second half. There are plenty of memorable moments, my favourite being when Zala discovers the true identity of the mysterious 'Anansi', who always seems to be one step ahead of her every move. It is a revelation that is a complete game-changer in terms of the narrative and I loved the fact that I hadn't been able to predict it coming.

Maskill has some wonderfully creative ideas and the powerful themes of the book are surprisingly current, given recent news items about terrorist threats and the Ebola outbreak. The lines of right and wrong are delightfully blurred; one can feel sympathy with the rebel cause, whilst wincing with revulsion at the gruesome methods they use to attain their goals. This is a story that inevitably gets the reader wondering: what would I do in that situation?

I do have some issues with the book, unfortunately. I felt that there were way too many secondary characters and I had trouble keeping up with who everyone was. I didn't feel that the characters were particularly well drawn or had enough depth to make the reader care about what happened to them. Some characters seemed to be stock stereotypes: the kick-ass female lead, the trigger-happy maniac thirsty for revenge, the all-powerful councillor, the geeky hacker...Maskill brought nothing new to the table recycling these old tropes, which was disappointing. In the same vein, certain plot elements will seem all too familiar. I groaned out loud when I realised that one particular chapter was virtually identical to a scene in a popular Hollywood blockbuster that I had watched only weeks before.

The Hive Construct in an entertaining read, packed with action, excitement and unpredictable plot twists. Maskill is clearly a promising author, bursting with ideas and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy. I really enjoyed it.

Hybrids by David Thorpe deals with similar themes to the Hive Construct and will appeal to those who enjoyed this book.

Buy The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill at Amazon.com.

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