Equations of Life is the first in the Metrozone Series, which is also known as the Petrovich series. It was recommended to me by a friend who also enjoys science fiction and fantasy books as suitable for a vacation read. I am not much of a romance reader, and haven’t really found anything breezy to read lately, so took both Equations of Life and Gardens of the Moon with me to the South Pacific. While I started with Gardens of the Moon, once I picked up Equations of Life it was a relatively breezy read for a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel.
The book is set in a near future London, rebuilt to house millions of international refugees in zones. There has been a nuclear apocalypse that left many countries riddled with radiation and crime, while countries like Japan have slipped away into the sea. The details are not included, and the story focuses on an unhealthy young Russian man who swears constantly and has truly terrible interpersonal skills. He also happens to be a genius mathematician and hacker who finds himself at the centre of a series of plots hatched by the Yakuza, Russian mafia, a destructive AI, and international governments after foiling a kidnapping. What starts out as an uncharacteristically noble act forces him into increasingly complicated and dangerous problems, and the book ends well with the resolution of a several plot points opening the world up a bit more for a sequel.
Of course, Petrovich as a character is a super special snowflake, a super genius version of Katniss, but he is fun to read. Several of the most important supporting characters are women, and each of them is remarkably capable at what they do – the bodyguard nun, the explosives expert, and the crime organizer in training. While Morden briefly and broadly describes the physical characteristics of the characters, their appearances are not the focus which was nice, but the characterization was pretty thin on the whole. I found the story moved very quickly, making sure the various plot lines are intertwined. Morden successfully gave a sense of how dirty and dangerous the Metrozone is, which echoed the tension the characters felt in trying to figure out intentions and how to trust each other. Equations of Life feels like a popcorn movie of a book – enjoy the ride, try not to think too hard about any gaps, and wait for the sequel.