Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat is the first book of the same series. It is an independently published book and was mentioned in our recent recommendations of indie cyberpunk listicle. While some people believe cyberpunk hit its heyday during the Eighties, the folk here at Grimdark Magazine believe that its themes of unchecked looter capitalism, environmental collapse, and government technological abuse are more relevant than ever. I think this is an excellent example of these themes as well as a solid action novel.
The premise is that the future is dominated by massive arcologies run by megacorporations. This is a classic idea but one that I never get tired of. Olympias City is one of those arcologies and it is protected by an army of super-powerful cybernetic soldiers called Guardian Angels. They are taken as children and indoctrinated along with upgraded until all of them are unquestioning weapons for the state.
Nephilim is one of the rising stars of the Guardian Angels and the favorite of High Archangel Metatron. Growing up in the materialist society of Olympias City, she is blind to the majority of the state’s flaws and irony in her name choice. However, when damaged during a mission, she finds herself freed from the “Grid” and regaining a measure of free will. She uses this time to explore the reality she’s lived in with a fresh set of (glowing blue) eyes and seeing what she’s missed.
Anna Mocikat seems to have been inspired by a combination of 1984, Ghost in the Shell, and The Matrix. There’s a lot of literary references to George Orwell, though her dystopia is more a seeming promiscuous utopian with a horrifying underbelly ala Brave New World than the overt failure of Oceania. I really liked how transhumanism is something that has been turned into another weapon for society’s elite as it costs so much to improve humanity than only a minority receive enhancements while the others view them as terrifying monsters.
Much of the story is taken up by Nephilim’s growing friendship with two men in her life: Finnwick and Jake. The former is a nerdy, almost comically so, individual who helps her become free of the system while the latter is her dashing love interest. Neither of them are quite what they seem and the twists involved in their stories are a major source of tension. There is also the figure of Metatron, the mysterious leader of the Guardian Angels, who seems to be both Nephilim’s ally and enemy until his true allegiances become apparent.
The book has a lot of really great action scenes and I think would translate well to cinema. The Guardian Angels are super-fast, strong, and durable faced against armies of squishy humans. The fact our heroine is also surrounded by equally powerful and dangerous killing machines that could find out her secret at any point is a major source of the book’s tension. I also appreciate the heroine is biracial since that’s still rare in the genre.
Behind Blue Eyes is a solid book and available for 99c right now as well as being on Kindle Unlimited for those who don’t want to spend too much money. It’s certainly worth it and I immediately picked up the sequel after finishing it. It definitely scratched my cyberpunk itch and I think it will do the same for you. Plus, it’s always good to support indie authors.