Nanoshock is the second volume of the SINless series by K.C. Alexander. The series is set around an arcology where humanity’s survivors have been packed together like sardines. Every person has a SIN code that marks them as part of the corporate-run system except the Saints (or SINless) that exist as mercenaries off the grid. After a disastrous mission that kills her girlfriend, saint Riko, is left friendless and with zero credibility in the underworld.
Necrotech was one of my favorite cyberpunk reads from the moment it came out. The sequel is a bit more of a mixed bag as it attempts to shock the reader from the moment the first sentence is spoken to the shocking ending that leaves us trapped with a cliffhanger since 2017. Sometimes this shock value helps the story along and other times it feels like the author is just being edgy for the sake of edgy. However, that doesn’t mean I disliked the book. Far from it, few authors are capable of writing genuine cyberPUNK like K.C. Alexander and my biggest regret is I don’t have a sequel to read right now.
Riko has lost almost every single bit of respect she’d previously gained as a saint. Everyone believes she not only sold out her fellow saints to corporation MetaCore but that she sold out her own gilrlfriend, Nanji. Her mentor, Lucky, leaving has caused her even more distress. Her only friend, Indigo, also has suspicions that she really did kill his sister. It’s left her angry and violent, well angrier and more violent, with her untreated PTSD only making things worse.
Part of what makes this book good is it seriously handles Riko’s trauma. Riko doesn’t just get over her violation and suffering at the hands of MetaCore. It increases her already deep issues and forces away those few people that she has left. The book actually gets genuinely uncomfortable at times with Riko’s obvious issues that are not played laughs or cured by friendship. Indeed, the one person who Riko really gets close to is, well, I won’t spoil that for you.
Nanoshock is full of action and excellent world-building. Every single scene is full of new characters, groups, and details about the hellish environment our heroine has to survive in. Poverty, crime, and greed are exaggerated to a Judge Dredd-esque level that makes our heroines’ actions relatable if not right. Riko believes in nothing but being the best saint possible but that is no longer possible. She will never be the best and has no ambitions beyond that, even revenge.
Unfortunately, I do have some complaints about the book. The book spends much of its plot trying to get Riko to recover a missing video of her betraying saints to MetaCore. However, that plot is never really resolved nor is there any progress made on her overall quest to discover the truth. It’s the equivalent of the Empire Strikes Back having Luke not fight the Empire or learn anything about being a Jedi. Its a fine plot but I was hoping for more progress, especially with the ending.
In conclusion, Nanoshock is a book that is sometimes a bit too ugly to be fun. However, it is a solid sequel to Necrotech and a story that I was glad to have read. I am very sad that we haven’t had a third book in the series because I really hated being left hanging by the climax but life goes on. I still think it was worth reading.